Celtics

Celtics players' theories on why they play up - and down - to their competition

Celtics players' theories on why they play up - and down - to their competition

BOSTON -- The idea that the Boston Celtics are at their best against the best teams is real.

So anyone who has followed this team this season wasn’t the least bit shocked that their three-game losing streak ended on Wednesday night with a 117-108 win over the Toronto Raptors who have been at the top of the Eastern Conference standings most of this season.

Boston (26-18) has now taken two of the three head-to-head games against the Raptors (33-13) which speaks volumes about how they have fared against the top teams in the East - Toronto, Milwaukee, Indiana and Philadelphia.

Against those four teams, Boston has a combined 6-3 record which is the best combined record of any of the four aforementioned teams against one another.

So what gives?

Why are the Celtics so much better against the Toronto, Philadelphia and Milwaukee’s of the world, but get drubbed against the Brooklyn, Orlando and Miami’s of the NBA?

“We have to play all those teams that aren’t the Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks and the Philly 76ers, we have to play those teams like they are,” Smart told NBC Sports Boston. “That only helps us, keeps us in a rhythm, a great rhythm and it holds us accountable for doing the right things.”

Terry Rozier added, “We just have to do a better job of beating the teams that are not so good … we gotta be locked in every game. We have to play with that intensity.”

Celtics guard Kyrie Irving has a theory, too.

“It just comes with our maturity as a team,” Irving said. “I did a poor job of setting an example for these young guys of what it’s like to get something out of your teammates. You go and say something publicly and it ends up being received in so many different ways. You never know how fragile or what guys are going through if you say things like that. You’re expecting results but at the same time I should have kept it in-house. Going forward, I want ... to get the best out of them but I won’t do it publicly like that.”

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Celtics coach Brad Stevens joins elite company with win No. 300

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USA TODAY Sports photo

Celtics coach Brad Stevens joins elite company with win No. 300

BOSTON -- For most of Brad Stevens’ time as Boston Celtics coach, he tends to get more out of his teams than most expect. 

So, it was only fitting that on the night he came up with a historic win No. 300 with the Celtics, it would come in a game where his team was at far from full strength. 

No Jaylen Brown (ankle). 

No Jayson Tatum (groin).

No Enes Kanter (hip bruise).

No problem for the Celtics, who rallied from a 16-point deficit before pulling away for a 109-98 win.

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And with the victory, Brad Stevens became just the fifth coach in Celtics history reach the 300-win milestone, a group that includes Red Auerbach (795 wins), Tommy Heinsohn (427), Doc Rivers (416), K.C. Jones (308) and now, Stevens. 

It is an impressive mark when you consider the company he now finds himself in, a fitting accomplishment that speaks to how Stevens has immersed himself into being an NBA head coach after arriving from the college ranks. 

In Stevens’ first couple of seasons in the NBA, when the Celtics weren’t nearly as successful as the Stevens-coached teams at Butler, there were steadily rumblings that Stevens would get tired of the NBA coaching lifestyle and losing, and eventually return to college coaching. 

Despite such speculation, Stevens has consistently maintained that he wants to be in the NBA coaching this team. 

Stevens downplayed the milestone and deflected credit when asked about the milestone after the game:

And games like the comeback win over Orlando on Friday night remind us that Stevens is not only all-in on this Celtics team, but he’s all-in on being one of the winningest coaches in franchise history. He got it done with an undermanned, injury-riddled bunch and it was similar to a number of wins he has amassed that have led him to where he is now. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pelicans, which begins Sunday at 5:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 6 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

How Tremont Waters, Romeo Langford fared for Red Claws on Friday

How Tremont Waters, Romeo Langford fared for Red Claws on Friday

Tacko Fall was recalled by the Boston Celtics on Friday, leaving Tremont Waters and Romeo Langford as the center of attention for the Maine Red Claws vs. the Long Island Nets.

It came down to the wire, but the Red Claws were able to squeak out a 118-114 win.

Here are some of Waters and Langford's highlights from the game, along with their stats:

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TREMONT WATERS

Waters nearly messed around and got a triple-double as he notched 23 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds on the night. He continues to dominate the NBA G League and make a solid case to become a regular with the Celtics sooner rather than later.


ROMEO LANGFORD

Langford finished with 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting. The Celtics' No. 14 overall draft pick also tallied four rebounds and three assists.

Other standout performers included Trey Davis (29 points, seven rebounds) and Yante Maten (17 points, eight rebounds).

The Red Claws return to action Saturday at 5 p.m. ET vs. the Westchester Knicks.

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Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pelicans, which begins Sunday at 5:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 6 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.