Celtics take lessons from Warriors loss into Denver


Celtics take lessons from Warriors loss into Denver

The visiting locker room at Oracle Arena is used to players and coaches licking their wounds after a humbling defeat.

But within the rubble of their 109-105 loss on Saturday, the Celtics came away with a sense of discovery as to what the next progression needs to be for them going forward.

“We were a lot more locked in,” said Jaylen Brown. “We haven’t played with this intensity in a while.”

Building off of that will be a chief goal tonight as the Celtics close out their four-game West Coast trip against the Denver Nuggets.

Two of the more impressive performers in the loss to the Warriors, Kyrie Irving and Brown, had one of their best nights as a backcourt tandem earlier this season when Boston edged the Nuggets 124-118 at the TD Garden.

In that game, Irving had 33 points on an efficient 12-for-19 shooting display. Brown was also impressive, scoring 26 points on 9-for-12 shooting.

Like Saturday, both players were assertive and effective against the Nuggets, the kind of traits Boston will benefit greatly from if they’re on display tonight.

Indeed, Boston's success has to be a team thing.

Despite being just 25, Irving is an elite, proven talent in the NBA. No one questions his ability to perform at the highest level when the stakes are great.

Still, he has been in the league long enough to know that whatever success the Celtics have as far as making a deep playoff run, will involve several of his younger teammates.

And part of their growth includes understanding how to elevate their play when the games matter most, without necessarily trying to do too much, which could be detrimental to the ultimate goal of advancing from one round of the postseason to the next.

Win or lose, the Celtics are intent on finding elements to build upon from one game to the next, which is essential to a team with so many new faces still in the process of learning what it takes to step their game up between now and the postseason, and beyond.

“For us, we take it as a learning experience. They’re an incredible team,” said Irving, referring to the Warriors. “We’re a developing young team trying to be great as well. You just have to have that confidence.”

And it’s games like tonight’s game against the Nuggets that can only strengthen the Celtics along those lines.

While Boston (34-16) is fighting to hold on to the top seed in the East, the Nuggets (26-23) are clinging to the eighth and final playoff seed out West. Denver has a one-game lead over the Los Angeles Clippers and trail New Orleans and Portland (27-22) by one game.

So, this too will be another game in which the Celtics are facing a team as hungry for a victory as they are.

And with a 19-6 record at home, the only team with a better home record in the West than Denver are San Antonio (20-4) and Minnesota (20-6).

There are plenty of factors that will come into play tonight, including whether Boston can play aggressively consistently. 

“Having a young group, it’s one of the things we need to learn; be more consistent,” said Al Horford. “We’ve done it a lot of times this season.  For some reason, the past two weeks we haven’t been playing at the level we need to. Hopefully, we can build from this. We have a great opportunity to out there and finish the trip 2-2.”


Celtics-Cavaliers preview: How will C's respond to blowout Game 3 loss?

Celtics-Cavaliers preview: How will C's respond to blowout Game 3 loss?

CLEVELAND – This season has been one lesson learned after another for the Boston Celtics, a team that has taken those teachings and transformed them into better play moving forward. 

It is a trend the Celtics hope to continue tonight as they try and bounce back from a 116-86 Game 3 thrashing at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers who now trail Boston 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. 

“All season I feel like we've been learning,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “We've been put in different positions. And now we're in a position that we need to bounce back, and (tonight) we have a good opportunity.”

Boston doesn’t have a ton of experience this season when it comes to suffering double-digit losses. 

In fact, the Celtics only suffered nine losses by 10 or more points this season. 

But here’s the thing: 

You hear players on this team talk all the time about putting the last game quickly behind them, win or lose. 

Well, that has certainly been the case when they have suffered losses by 10 or more points, evident by them posting an impressive 8-1 regular season record in the games that followed double-digit defeats. 

So if the Celtics seem extremely calm right now, that’s why.

“Everybody loses games,” said Boston’s Jayson Tatum. “The NBA is such a quick turnaround that you really can't be down, especially in the playoffs.”

The Celtics will be fine in terms of their approach mentally to Game 4. The bigger issue is doing a better job of executing at both ends of the floor and doing so without being thrown off their rhythm by the crowd noise that’s pumped into the Quicken Loans Arena that players acknowledged made communicating tougher than usual in Game 3.

“It's going to be loud. But that can't be an excuse for us,” said Boston’s Marcus Smart. “The young guys know that. It's alright, it's one game. The one thing about this sport, you get a chance to go out there and do it again, so it's a blessing to have that opportunity.”

And for the Celtics, tonight’s game offers more than just a chance to exact some payback for a dismal Game 3 performance. It also moves them one step closer towards the NBA Final.

But make no mistake about it. 

The sting of how thoroughly the Celtics were outplayed is indeed on the minds of some players heading into tonight’s game. 

“I use it as fuel because I thought it was embarrassing,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “I thought we came out, the way I played, the way I performed, how not aggressive I was in the first half, I look at that as fuel to come out in Game 3 and be excited about it and be ready to play and ready to fight.

Brown added, “We can't look at the last game and get down on ourselves or

think we're out of the series because we lost one game. That's what the world thinks, that's what the world wants us to think, so we're going to come out and play some basketball (tonight), regardless of what anybody got to say.”


David Ortiz once came through in the clutch for Al Horford's wedding

David Ortiz once came through in the clutch for Al Horford's wedding

David Ortiz doesn't only come through in the clutch when he's in the batter's box.

He also delivers in clutch situations off the field. Take Al Horford's wedding for example. The Celtics big man had a last-minute wedding in the Dominican Republic and desperately needed a car to pick up his wife-to-be. Big Papi saved the day, sending Horford his Phantom and a driver. He even let them keep the car for a couple of days.

Horford told the story to the NBCS Camera Guys, who you should definitely follow on Twitter if you haven't already. . .