Celtics-Spurs preview: C's look to grab two in a row vs. San Antonio

Celtics-Spurs preview: C's look to grab two in a row vs. San Antonio

Beating San Antonio in late October may have seemed like just one of the many clubs Boston sent away with a loss.

But the Spurs’ victory was, well, different.


It was the first real test for the Celtics who had lost their previous six games on the TD Garden floor to the Spurs.

Beating them, obviously, was a big deal.

And to do it on the road?

That would be even more impressive considering the Celtics have lost 11 of the last 12 games on the road against the Spurs (17-8) heading into tonight’s matchup.

This season has been one in which the Celtics have had several mile marker-type wins to their credit, victories that in many ways validated them as one of the better teams in the NBA.

And the first of the bunch was Boston’s 108-94 win over the Spurs on Oct. 30, a game in which the Spurs were without Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker.

But as we’ve seen time and time again, the Spurs are still one of the league’s best teams when it comes to winning, regardless of who is in their lineup or not.

Making Boston’s success thus far so surprising is how much they have leaned on first- and second-year players to win games.

“You never know how quick guys are going to pick up things,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “But from Day One with this group, guys try to play the right way, they’re about the right things. When you have a group of guys like that, you get these kind of results.”

In addition to getting significant contributions from rookies like Jayson Tatum as well as second-year wing Jaylen Brown, Boston has also benefited from playing their best basketball in the second half of games.

Boston ranks among the top-10 teams in the NBA in several categories based on second-half play, such as field goal percentage (.466, 8th in the NBA), 3-pointers made (5.7, 8th), 3-point percentage (.390, 3rd), points scored (53.6, 6th) in addition to a league-best defensive rating of 96.9 and an offensive rating of 111.4 which is second in the league.

 “Initially hearing that, you don’t want to necessarily be a second-half team,” said Boston’s Kyrie Irving. “Some of our first halves haven’t been the best; we understand that. Teams come out and hit us right away. We’ve come to expect (that) and we always try to keep it within (close) distance, especially if we’re not playing particularly well on both ends of the floor. The second half, we have to raise our level of play. Otherwise, teams are going to kick our butts.”


Classic Celtics: Larry Bird lifts C's over Rockets in 1986 NBA Finals clincher

Classic Celtics: Larry Bird lifts C's over Rockets in 1986 NBA Finals clincher

Some consider the 1986 Boston Celtics one of the greatest NBA teams of all time.

Here's your chance to watch them finish off that historic season.

NBC Sports Boston's "Classic Celtics" series -- which brought you Kemba Walker's 32-point outburst against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday -- rolls on Friday with Game 6 of the 1986 NBA Finals between the Celtics and Houston Rockets.

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The Rockets took Game 5 in Houston to send the series back to Boston, but they weren't prepared for Larry Bird, whose magnificent performance in Game 6 (29 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists) helped the C's earn a 114-97 win and clinch their 16th NBA championship.

Our re-broadcast of Celtics-Rockets airs Friday at 7 p.m. ET, and if watching Bird at the height of his powers wasn't entertaining enough, former Celtics center Bill Walton will join Brian Scalabrine throughout the night to provide color commentary.

Here's when and how to watch:

When: Friday, April 3, 7 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Boston
Streaming: NBCSportsBoston.com and in the MyTeams app

Click here to listen and subscribe to the Celtics Talk Podcast:

How Kobe Bryant once used a cutout of Paul Pierce as 'motivation'

How Kobe Bryant once used a cutout of Paul Pierce as 'motivation'

Kobe Bryant will forever be remembered as one of the fiercest competitors in sports history. That unmatched competitiveness was amplified whenever his Los Angeles Lakers faced off against their archrival, the Boston Celtics.

Two months after the Lakers fell to the C's in the 2008 NBA Finals, Bryant headed to China to take part in the Summer Olympics. There, he helped the United States earn its first gold medal since 2000.

But the sting from his loss to the Celtics overshadowed the euphoria of his Olympics victory.

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WNBA star Sue Bird, who also was in China for the '08 Games, told a great story about witnessing Bryant's competitive attitude while drinking wine and playing card games with him that summer.

“He was fresh off [the Finals loss] and you could tell [he was still thinking it]” Bird told Los Angeles Sparks star and ESPN analyst Chiney Ogwuimike.“… [We were] just kicking it and he saw this newspaper — it was something about the Lakers series and blah blah blah — and there was a picture of Paul Pierce celebrating.

“And he didn’t say a word. He didn’t say anything. But we saw him take the paper. He started cutting out the Paul Pierce picture. He folded it up and put it in his pocket and was like, ‘Motivation.’ And we were like, ‘Oh, it never stops with him.’ And you can tell.”

Watch below:

There never will be another player like the "Black Mamba."

Bryant tragically passed away in a helicopter crash on January 26 along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others. He was 41 years old.

You can listen to Pierce reminisce about the C's Finals win over the Lakers in the Celtics Talk Podcast below: