Celtics

Celtics' Saturday woes continue with latest weekend loss to bad team

Celtics' Saturday woes continue with latest weekend loss to bad team

Forget losing out on home-court advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The Boston Celtics' biggest concern should be avoiding having to play on Saturdays.

The Celtics suffered a baffling loss to a mediocre team Saturday night, allowing the 10th-seed Charlotte Hornets to reel off a 30-5 run en route to a 124-117 loss.

If you're feeling a little déjà vu, you're onto something. That ugly 86-point effort at home against the Utah Jazz in November? It came on a Saturday night. A perplexing 10-point road loss to the tanking Chicago Bulls in late February? Also a Saturday night.

And that fateful defeat at the hands of the Orlando Magic that prompted Kyrie Irving to question the Celtics' lack of experience? You guessed it: Saturday night.

The Celtics have played an unusually high number of Saturday games this season -- 17, their most since the 1955-56 season -- and have fared quite poorly. They're now 8-9 in Saturday games, with seven of those eight wins coming against teams currently out of the playoff picture.

Here's a look:

Wins: at NYK, at DET, at MIN, at CHI, at MEM, at ATL, at LAL, vs. ATL
Losses: at IND, vs. UTA, at DAL, at DET, at ORL, vs. GST, vs. LAC, at CHI, at CHA

In Boston's defense, it's a pretty brutal schedule to navigate: 13 of those 17 games have been on the road (it will be 14 of 18 when the C's visit Brooklyn next Saturday), and five were on the second night of a back-to-back.

But here's what makes this trend so baffling: The Celtics thrived in these situations in recent seasons.

In fact, the C's entered the 2018-19 campaign with wins in 17 of their last 20 Saturday regular-season games. They won 9 of 11 Saturday contests in 2017-18 and dropped just one Saturday game in nine tries in 2016-17.

This season has been a completely different story for the enigmatic Celtics, whose lowest winning percentage is in Monday games (5-7) but who shoot worse from the floor (40.6 percent) and have more losses on Saturday than any other day of the week.

Of course, this could all be a coincidence. Boston easily could "flip the switch" and throw its Saturday struggles out the window come playoff time.

But like many of us, it appears the 2018-19 Celtics don't enjoy working on Saturday night.

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Where do Celtics stand in East pecking order? New NBA odds are telling

Where do Celtics stand in East pecking order? New NBA odds are telling

On paper, the No. 4-seed Boston Celtics are the worst remaining Eastern Conference team in the NBA playoffs.

In reality, they have a very real shot at "upsetting" the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the second round and even reaching the NBA Finals.

The 2018-19 Celtics indeed have been an enigma this season, sputtering to a 49-33 record despite being preseason favorites to win the conference but jelling nicely in a first-round series sweep of the Indiana Pacers.

How to get a handle on Boston's postseason potential? Vegas is a good place to start, as U.S. sportsbooks released updated odds to reach the NBA Finals for the four remaining East teams with the second round set.

The Bucks are still the favorite at -120, and the No. 2 seed Toronto Raptors are close behind at +180. But the C's have better odds than the No. 3 seed Philadelphia 76ers, who are pegged at +550 compared to Boston at +375.

These odds are a pretty accurate reflection of where the C's stand: Kyrie Irving and Co. have the potential to knock off the Bucks, but still would be underdogs in the East finals against a deep Raptors squad that was favored to win the conference earlier this year.

The Sixers might have the most talent of the bunch, but the Celtics have owned them lately and likely would be favored if Philly snuck past Toronto.

The latest odds to win the NBA Finals from FanDuel Sportsbook offer similar reflection of the East food chain, with the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets still on top:

Golden State Warriors: -160
Houston Rockets: +550
Milwaukee Bucks: +550
Toronto Raptors: +1000
Boston Celtics: +1600
Philadelphia 76ers: +2200

Essentially, the Celtics are a de facto three-seed in Vegas behind Milwaukee and Toronto. We'll start find out Sunday if they can outperform those odds.

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Celtics vs. Bucks schedule: Dates for each game of the second-round series

Celtics vs. Bucks schedule: Dates for each game of the second-round series

Brad Stevens need wait no longer.

The NBA on Wednesday finally announced the game dates for the Boston Celtics' second-round NBA playoff series with the Milwaukee Bucks, with Game 1 set for Sunday.

That's a relief for Stevens, whose No. 4 seed Celtics have been off since dispatching the No. 5 Indiana Pacers last Sunday but hadn't yet known their schedule.

The C's should face a much tougher challenge in the No. 1 seed Bucks, who decisively swept the Detroit Pistons in Round 1 and posted the best record in the NBA this season behind MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Here's the full schedule for Celtics vs. Bucks, with exact game times to be revealed in the coming days (all times Eastern):

Game 1: Sunday, April 28, 1 p.m. @ Milwaukee
Game 2: Tuesday, April 30, TBD @ Milwaukee
Game 3: Friday, May 3, TBD @ Boston
Game 4: Monday, May 6, TBD @ Boston
Game 5:* Wednesday, May 8, TBD @ Milwaukee
Game 6:* Friday, May 10, TBD @ Boston
Game 7*: Monday, May 13, TBD @ Milwaukee

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