Celtics

Crazy stat shows how locked-in Celtics offense is right now

Crazy stat shows how locked-in Celtics offense is right now

The last time the Celtics were putting up points at this rate, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish actually were walking through that door.

Boston's 128-100 win over the Knicks Thursday night was their fourth straight, tying a season-high -- and it was the C's fourth straight game scoring at least 115 points. The last time that happened, only five current Celtics were even alive.

The Celtics have averaged 124.5 points over this four-game win streak, almost 20 points per game higher than their 106.3 ppg average over the first 20 games of the season.

Next up for this offensive juggernaut is a Saturday night matchup against the Bulls in Chicago.

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Tired Celtics stall against the Pistons

Tired Celtics stall against the Pistons

So much has been made about the Boston Celtics feasting on lesser competition during their now-snapped eight-game winning streak and, while there absolutely is truth in that, the schedule hasn’t been as forgiving as some might think judging simply by the winning percentage of recent opponents.

It took three weeks, nine flights, and 12,000 air miles but the under-the-radar grind of Boston’s recent schedule seemed to catch up with the team a bit during Saturday’s 113-104 loss in Detroit.


Make no mistake, the Celtics had plenty of downtime in recent weeks and they were relatively healthy on Saturday night, though Al Horford remained out while strengthening a bothersome knee. This was a game that Boston probably should have won, even if the Pistons weren’t nearly as poor as a recent six-game losing streak might have suggested.

But Boston was simply flat for much of Saturday’s game.

"Just one of those games for us where we came in and I knew [the Celtics would] kind of have to grind it out,” Kyrie Irving told reporters in Detroit. Irving scored a team-high 26 points but on just 11-of-25 shooting. While our expectations for Irving are insanely inflated given his recent play, he simply didn’t have the magical touch he typically does while finishing around the basket. And Detroit did what they could to pull him from his comfort zones.

“[The Pistons]  came out physical, they were pressuring me everywhere I went, and they were making it tough on us,” said Irving. "They played like a desperate team and so we get that. You’re battling uphill, and still giving ourselves a decent chance to win, we just didn’t have that extra push that we normally do.”

Irving ultimately shrugged off the loss while suggesting it’s “just basketball.” Later, he expounded on why he could live with a rare bump in the road.

"Everything is not going to look pretty every single night, in terms of scoring the basketball the way we’ve been scoring the last few games. So we understand that, in order to be special in this league, we gotta get stops,” Irving told reporters. "Blake [Griffin] got it going, as well as Andre [Drummond] on the boards. They came out and played desperate basketball and they were not the same Detroit team that we’ve been seeing on film the last few games and we understood that. 

"They just had the will, more fight tonight, and it showed.”

The Celtics hadn’t lost since Nov. 24 in Dallas. But they were playing their third game in fourth nights, while Detroit was playing for the first time since Wednesday.

You might have noticed a rash of 7 p.m. tipoffs on Boston's home schedule this year. They are by design. Celtics coach Brad Stevens was among those that lobbied for tip times earlier than the typical 7:30 start, believing even the slightest bit of extra rest after games might aid everyone in the organization. 

Like Irving, Smart wants the team to learn from Saturday’s loss but also won’t overreact to it.

“We’re disappointed but, at the same time, it’s one game for us,” said Smart. "We have been playing well so far so we can’t let this discourage us too much to start going down the slope. We can’t let this game compound to the next onto the next and onto the next. We gotta learn from it, gotta move on.”

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Celtics streak ends at eight in a row with loss to Detroit

Celtics streak ends at eight in a row with loss to Detroit

It had to end sooner or later. 

Saturday’s Boston-Detroit game was a streak-ender for both teams as the Celtics could not string together enough good plays at both ends of the floor, resulting in Boston losing 113-104.

Boston (18-11) came into the game with a league-best eight game winning streak while the victory for Detroit snapped a six-game losing skid for the Pistons. 

The Celtics fell behind by double digits in the third quarter before closing it out with a 7-0 spurt to come within 85-78 going into the fourth.

Boston fell behind big but mounted a mini-run of sorts about midway through the fourth.

But like most of Boston’s surges earlier in the night, the Pistons had an answer, doing just what they needed in order to get the win. 

Here are the Stars, Studs, and Duds from Saturday night’s game. 

STARS

Andre Drummond: The Boston Celtics once again had their share of problems dealing with Andre Drummond, proving to be too much for the Celtics around the basket before finishing with a double-double of 19 points and 20 rebounds for his 22nd double-double this season in addition to a late-game block (one of five on the game) of a Jayson Tatum dunk attempt that was arguably the biggest play of the game. 

Kyrie Irving: Like most games for the Boston Celtics, it was Kyrie Irving setting the tone from the outset. He led Boston with 26 points, nine of which came in the first quarter, along with grabbing eight rebounds for the game.

Blake Griffin: Reminding us that there’s more to his game than just dunking, Blake Griffin gave the Celtics fits both inside the paint as well as in the role as a play-maker. For the game, he had 27 points, six rebounds and six assists. 

STUDS

Marcus Smart: Boston was in catch-up mode most of the game. One of the few sparks came from Marcus Smart whose strong play near the end of the third quarter made it a single-digit game. Smart finished with a season-high 21 points.

Jose Calderon: His ability to come into the game and make plays not only for himself but his teammates, was a major factor in the game’s outcome. Calderon came off the bench and tallied five points to go with eight assists. 

Langston Galloway: He did a nice job of giving the Pistons a huge lift in the first half which is when he scored 10 of his 14 points. 

DUDS

Boston’s first-half defense: The Detroit Pistons spent most of the first half shooting around 60 percent from the field before settling in at 52.4 percent. The strong shooting was fueled in large part by Detroit’s ball movement which allowed them to have 22 made baskets on 16 assists.

Marcus Morris: As good as he has been this season, he’s more than due to have an off night shooting the ball. That was indeed the case for Morris who missed a number of uncontested jumpers before finishing with nine points on 3-for-10 shooting. 

Celtics bench: This was one of those nights when the starters needed some help and Boston’s bench just couldn’t step up to the challenge. They combined to score 21 points on a less-than-impressive 9-for-27 shooting from the field. 

Turnovers: It wasn’t so much the number of turnovers Boston committed, but how easily the Pistons transformed those miscues into points. Boston turned the ball over 14 times which Detroit converted into 24 points.

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NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE