BOSTON – As the wins continue to pile up for the Celtics, there have been a couple of disturbing trends that pop up every now and then.
They have shown themselves to be the NBA’s best come-from-behind team, which has at times manifest itself with sluggish starts followed by a superb finish.
But as the Celtics saw first-hand earlier this week in Toronto, there will be nights when an early deficit foreshadows how the game will play out rather than become the turning point for the season-long comeback narrative.
We saw how Boston beat a good Washington team 110-104 in overtime Thursday night, a game in which the Celtics never trailed by more than five.
So, at no point in the game did the Wizards ever feel comfortable or in complete control, something the Celtics need to build on tonight when they host the Indiana Pacers, who come in having won six of their past nine.
Boston made a slew of clutch plays in the closing moments to get past the Wizards, winners in five of their previous six prior to facing the Celtics.
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There was Kyrie Irving knocking down a trio of free throws with 9.8 seconds that wound up tying the game and forcing overtime.
And in overtime, all 12 of Boston’s points came from Irving (who finished with 28 points) and is backcourt partner Jaylen Brown (who had 18 for the game).
But lost in the Celtics victory was how they didn’t allow themselves to get behind early, but instead kept the game relatively close and, in the end, did what they had to do in order to get the victory.
Chalk it up to one of the many lessons learned from their 20-point beatdown at Toronto earlier this week.
“We gotta come out with some fight,” Marcus Morris, who led all Celtics reserves with 15 points, told NBC Sports Boston following the win over Washington. “We gotta come out and hold our ground. We took a step back in Toronto. We weren’t ready for the intensity of the game. We learned from it. We came out here and played well the whole game.”
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And it’ll take a similar effort tonight against the Pacers (30-25) who are sixth in the Eastern Conference and like everyone else in the East, are looking at knocking off the Conference-leading Celtics.
“Every team is coming,” Brown said. “They look at the East and think it’s wide open, and rightfully so. Everyone is coming with their best, everyone talks about the Celtics and we’re the number one team in the East, and we’ve been number one for a while now. There are teams that are on our heels and we know that, so every game we need to come out and bring the same energy because every night is like a Super Bowl. We can’t take nights off.”