Celtics

Celtics steamroll Pacers for blowout win

Celtics steamroll Pacers for blowout win

BOSTON --For the Boston Celtics, the climb up the Eastern Conference standings will have to include overcoming the Indiana Pacers.

Consider Wednesday’s game a step in the right direction as the Celtics took control from the outset and stomped Indiana, 135-108.

The win extended Boston’s winning streak to four in a row, all of which came in the friendly confines of the TD Garden.

Boston (25-15) hopes to keep the good times rolling as they hit the road for their next three games, the first of which will be tomorrow night in Miami.

But first things first:

Boston had to take care of an Indiana team that has had the best record (14-3) in the NBA since Dec. 4.

And the Celtics did just that by opening the game with an 18-8 run before eventually pulling ahead by as many as 27 points.

Indiana (27-14), playing its fourth game in six nights, looked like a team running on empty from the outset.

Making matters even more difficult for them was that they would be without Myles Turner due to a shoulder injury.

But the Celtics were missing big man Aron Baynes (left fourth metacarpal fracture) who won’t return until, at the earliest, sometime near the end of next week.

Not only did the win extend Boston’s winning streak but just as important, it moved them one win closer to their uphill climb towards the Eastern Conference mountaintop.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 27-point win over the Pacers.

STARS

Marcus Morris: The most consistent Celtic all season, it was yet another highly efficient night for Morris. He led the Celtics with 22 points on 6-for-8 shooting which included him making all three of his 3-pointers to go with shooting a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line. And he did it in just 23 minutes.

Domantas Sabonis: The Pacers looked like an energy-drained team most of the game; that is except for Domantas Sabonis who led the Pacers with 20 points on 6-for-9 shooting to go with seven rebounds and five assists.

STUDS

Jayson Tatum: This was one of the strongest starts we’ve seen from Jayson Tatum like, ever. Boston opened with an 18-8 run, with Tatum scoring 11 points during the spurt. He would finish with 20 points on 9-for-15 shooting to go with four rebounds.

Celtics bench: Boston’s second unit was in equal opportunity annihilation mode on Wednesday. Led by Jaylen Brown’s 22 points, Boston’s bench outscored Indiana’s backups 73-47.

DUDS

Victor Oladipo: This was a bad game by anyone’s definition for Victor Oladipo. He scored 17 points on 6-for-13 shooting which isn’t too shabby. But he had little to no impact on the game, something that should never happen to an all-star of his caliber. He grabbed three rebounds but didn’t have a single assist. And to top it off, he missed four of his six free throw attempts.

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Kyrie Irving's critical comments were justified, explains Celtics legend

Kyrie Irving's critical comments were justified, explains Celtics legend

Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving was critical of the team's younger players after a recent loss to the Orlando Magic, and one Celtic legend thinks the veteran point guard's comments were justified. 

Paul Pierce, who spent 15 years with the Celtics and helped deliver Boston a championship in 2008, explained Tuesday on ESPN's "The Jump" why he had no issues with Irving's comments. 

“However he has to do it to wake them up,” Pierce said. “Kyrie understands what it takes to win a championship, so he’s trying to show them there’s an everyday process to this.

“When I won a championship and we came back the next year, it was like, ‘don’t get bored with the process’ or ‘understand what the process is.’ And that’s what he’s trying to teach them. And that’s why they’re inconsistent, because they don’t understand that. It doesn’t start just on the court during games. It’s in practice, it’s the little things … It’s the little things that they have to follow — the details that it’s going to take for them to win a championship, and Kyrie’s trying to show them that.”

The Celtics have not met expectations so far this season and enter Wednesday's showdown against the Toronto Raptors with a 25-17 record. A lot of the frustration involving this team stems from its inconsistency. The C's have lost three consecutive games, but won four straight games before that. An eight-game win streak in December was followed by a three-game skid.

The Celtics' season ultimately will be judged on their playoff run, but they won't enjoy much success in April, May or June unless they find an identity and every player buys in. Irving, as one of the most experienced players on the team and one of two Celtics with a championship ring, is the right man to lead that process.

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Terry Rozier gets real about Kyrie Irving's criticism of Celtics

Terry Rozier gets real about Kyrie Irving's criticism of Celtics

We'll say one thing about the 2018-19 Boston Celtics: They're not afraid to speak their minds.

Kyrie Irving certainly did so Saturday night when he seemed to call out the Celtics' young players after a loss to the Orlando Magic. We've since heard from a few of those young players, with Jayson Tatum endorsing Irving's message and Jaylen Brown perhaps suggesting Kyrie tone it down a bit.

Following Monday's loss to the Nets in Brooklyn, Irving's backup, Terry Rozier, chimed in.

“Kyrie said a lot after the last game (against Orlando) and it was probably stuff that people didn’t want to hear," Rozier told Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill. “But it’s showing.”

The 24-year-old also admitted it's been a challenge for players like himself, Tatum and Brown to adapt to roles that were larger late last season when Irving and Gordon Hayward were out due to injury, even suggesting the Celtics could be "too talented."

"I don’t think we’ve all been on a team like this," Rozier said. "Young guys who can play, guys who did things in their career, the group that was together last year, then you bring Kyrie and Hayward back, it’s a lot with it."

And if you ask Rozier, the impromptu meetings (led mostly by Irving) to iron out these issues haven't always been beneficial.

"I feel like we have them talks throughout the season, but it didn’t turn out that good," Rozier added. "You see guys get into it with each other, but that’s part of the game. You gotta be real with each other."

The Celtics still have time to figure things out, of course. Rozier admitted the Celtics needed to hear Irving's critique, which the All-Star point guard actually walked back before Monday's game in Brooklyn.

"Sometimes I may come off and say things, never to question my teammates in public like that ever again," Irving told ESPN.com's Ian Begley. "I just want to win so bad."

Boston hasn't done much winning of late, falling to seven games behind the Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Raptors after their third straight loss. But now would be a good time to start: The C's play seven of their next eight games at home, starting Wednesday against the Raptors.

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