Celtics

Celtics see it’s a little easier when they keep it close

Celtics see it’s a little easier when they keep it close

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. 

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.”

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.”

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Pierce details mental-health struggles after stabbing

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Pierce details mental-health struggles after stabbing

Jackie MacMullan's deep-dive look at the mental health stigma in the NBA on Monday wasn't without a few Celtics anecdotes.

One of the biggest sections of the stories was former Celtic Paul Pierce talking about his struggles after he was stabbed outside a Boston night club in 2000.

"I was stabbed 11 times," Pierce tells ESPN. "I felt like I was trapped in a box. I couldn't go nowhere. I battled depression for a year. The only thing that saved me was basketball."

Pierce played all 82 games after surviving the incident, but that was also a product of his anxiety in the ensuing months.

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"I think that's the reason I got back on the court so fast. Me sitting at home thinking about [the stabbing] didn't work. I went to every practice, sat on the sideline for hours, because that's where I felt safe. I didn't want those practices to end because then I had to go back out there in this world that really scared me."

The Celtics offered consulting with a mental health expert, and Pierce is quoted saying he wished he took the advice.

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge is quoted as well, saying "We can offer all the services in the world, but if they won't use them, we can't help them. Too many of these guys don't realize how badly they need help until it's too late."

The piece also follows Cavaliers center Kevin Love and his mental health struggles in the past year.

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Anything is Podable Episode 6: The games behind-the-scenes

Anything is Podable Episode 6: The games behind-the-scenes

It’s hard not to be intense when Kevin Garnett is on your team. For the 07-08 Celtics, that fire extended beyond the court and into every waking moment they spent together.

Episode 6 of NBC Sports Boston’s “Anything is Podable” goes behind-the-scenes with the members of the world champion Celtics to get a never-before-heard glimpse into the games and competitions that brought them all closer together.

“Everything is about competition and we, as a staff, understood that early,” said Doc Rivers. “For practices, if there was no score, it was a bad practice. All you had to do was put a winner and a loser and the practice went from here to here. It was just that type of group.”

Whether it was on road trips, at practice, or in the weight room, everything about the team revolved around competition and an innate desire to win.

“Everything was competitive,” stated Rajon Rondo. “The boxing gloves came out in the weight room.”

As is the case with every great team, the bonding off the court was essential to finding success on it. Anything that could possibly be turned into a competition, was.

Arm wrestling? Check.

Push-upsYou bet.

On a road trip in Miami, Paul Pierce challenged Glen Davis to eat a large piece of bread in under one minute.

“Have you ever tried to eat a piece of bread like that?” Davis asked. “It gets dry. You can’t swallow it. It sounds easy, but people don’t know how dry bread is...I almost like choked and died.”

“You’re talking about a guy who loved to eat,” Pierce joked.

“I couldn’t do it,” Davis responded.

Competition off the court breeds competition on the court and, while the talent helped, little games like the ones played on road trips were vital to the Celtics achieving their ultimate goal.

Anything is Podable is a ten-part series diving into the story of the 2008 Celtics and their championship season, with exclusive, never-before-heard interviews with team executives, former players, and media members.

Narrated by Kyle Draper, it’s the perfect way for Celtics fans to pass time this offseason and get excited for 2018-19, a season in which the Celtics have as good a chance at raising their 18th championship banner as they’ve had since that magical 2008 season.

Fans can subscribe to the podcast through the link below and check out the other nine episodes for a look at this exclusive series.