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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