Can the Boston Celtics prove something tonight vs Philadelphia 76ers?

The Boston Celtics have had yet another one of their tumultuous weeks, a trend that seems to have followed them this entire season. It goes 1-2 great weeks of basketball, followed by a few bad losses and a negative sound-bite that gets blown out of proportion and leaves everyone coming up with zany conspiracy theories regarding the future of this team.

At the beginning of the year when this first started, it was almost comical to say that this team wouldn’t figure it out and contend for the Eastern Conference Title. But now, as we close in on the All-Star break and things seem to still be in turmoil, well let’s just say it’s not looking great. It was well put by ESPN’s Jackie McMullan when she said the following on the Brian Windhorst Hoop Collective Podcast

“There is something wrong with this team, It’s too late in the season to keep saying they’re going to figure it out. The chemistry is bad. The vibe is bad. And it’s not getting better” – Jackie MacMullan via Brian Windhorst and the Hoop Collective Podcast

Terry Roz

Clearly, things haven’t gone as predicted this season but even to the sourest critics of this team, it can’t be ruled out that we might just very well still end up seeing the Celtics in the NBA Finals come June. In the eyes of many NBA analysts, they are still, in fact, the favorites in the East.

There’s one other team that has been getting some new chatter that they might actually be the frontrunners now, and that is the Philadelphia 76ers. With the recent addition of Tobias Harris to their starting five, the Sixers have pretty much told the rest of the conference that they are all in on this season. It’s NBA Finals or bust for them.

It’s what makes tonight’s matchup in Philadelphia so intriguing. It will be the first time this new look Sixers’ team will matchup against the team that has been their nemesis in the East over the past 2 seasons. Boston took them down 4-1 in last year’s Eastern Conference Semi-finals and have taken both games so far this season.

We all know Kyrie Irving will be out with a knee injury, but it still looks to be a major statement game for the Celtics, for better or worse.

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Via 6abc.com

If the Celtics can go into Philadelphia and beat this newly formed “Phantastic 5” (lame nickname) that they have formed in Philly, it could be a giant momentum shift for this team. In fact, if I were a betting man, I would almost surely bet the Celtics in this game. Only for the simple reason that almost every time they have suffered a string of losses against sub-par teams, they usually back it up with an impressive victory over a real contender. It’s almost like it’s part of this team’s DNA and what makes them so insanely frustrating to watch at times.

It won’t be an easy task; the Sixers have had two impressive victories since they formed this new team. An impressive win over the 2nd seeded Nuggets, and a blow-out win over the LA Lakers who just beat the Celtics with a buzzer beater less than a week ago.

Another thing to factor in, the “we don’t need Kyrie Irving” talk will become deafening if the Celtics can come away with a win tonight. I’m certainly not of the camp that supports that theory, especially when he goes out the other night vs the LA Clippers and the Celtics blow a 28-point lead. But it will go a long way in supporting the narrative that this team plays better overall without him on the floor and which is another reason I feel a win in Philadelphia tonight is imminent. This team seems to attract turmoil, and while a win tonight will be great, it will add a whole new layer to that department.

Simply put though, if the Celtics can withstand Philadelphia’s best shot tonight and leave with a win, it will be hard to not keep them as a favorite still in the East. While every top team in the conference like the Bucks, Raptors, and Sixers all got better, it still feels like its inevitably the Celtics conference to lose. And if they do end up losing, I don’t believe it will be because they are outmatched by anyone. It will be because they end up beating themselves.

Celtics Get Bucked at Home, Can This Team Turn it Around?

Last night in the TD Garden it was Greek Heritage Night, maybe not the best of timing when the Greek Freak himself in Giannis Antetokounmpo is coming to town.

The Celtics started hot coming out with a 10-1 run to start the game, but it was all Bucks from there with Milwaukee defeating Boston 120-107. Giannis went for 30 pts and seemed to get to the basket at will, something that has become almost a formality for the 6’11 Greek god.

You could argue that wasn’t what did the Celtics in though, Giannis is always going to get his. Rather it was the Celtics inability to slow down the rest of the Bucks and especially from the 3pt line. The Bucks shot 40 percent from three on the night, but it was a flurry of deep shots that exploded the Bucks lead to 20 points in the 2nd quarter, a lead that resulted in being too insurmountable to come back from.

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The Celtics on the other hand were forced to play small ball with Al Horford, Aron Baynes and Marcus Morris all out with injury.  It didn’t bode well against the top rebounding team in the league in the Bucks and they were destroyed on the glass 55-36. When you play small ball you better make your threes and that certainly wasn’t the case. The Celts shot 10-34 from deep for a dismal 29 percent on the night. The live and die by the 3 motto was certainly in full effect last night with the Celtics living by the latter.

There were some flashes of good play in the second half, but when you get down big to a good team like the Celtics did tonight you can’t expect them to let you back in it. This isn’t the same Bucks team that Boston beat last year in the first round of the playoffs, they along with Giannis are much improved and are proving they can compete with anyone on any court this season.

Jaylen Brown provided some of the only encouraging moments tonight in a losing effort. His 21 Points in 30 minutes off the bench seemed to be the only spark plug the Celtics had. Brown who has struggled so far this season seemed to get going in an expanded role tonight. It would lead you to believe that he is a player that needs to get more minutes to garner more production. With Gordon Hayward still struggling to look comfortable on the floor and provide sufficient production, it may be time for Jaylen to step into and expanded role and keeping Hayward on the bench.

Brown Dunk

It was widely reported late last night after the game that there was a closed-door meeting in the Celtics locker room after last night’s debacle. There is no doubt it was a heated discussion in there and details were scarce about what was discussed. Kyrie Irving provided some insight when interviewed afterwards and said that “there is a lot of selfish play going on.”

You must agree with Kyrie’s sentiment and it has been clear that this team has strayed from the squad that was moving the ball around effectively during the recent 8- game win streak. The iso-ball that this team can fall into at times like we saw tonight is almost like a death sentence. It almost always ensures a stagnant offense and hinders the ability to get multiple players involved.

The Celtics get back at it Sunday night vs the Hornets, for their sake and that of the Celtics faithful we hope this closed locker room conversation can be a turning point in this season. I understand this team needs to get healthy, but they need to keep winning games in the meantime. I’ve heard cries that it won’t matter if we are healthy come the playoffs. While this may be true, this team is at a real risk of falling out of the race for the 1 or 2 seed in the East if things don’t turn around quickly. You can say that doesn’t matter, but don’t forget that until game 7 of the ECF last year this team didn’t lose a home playoff game. Homecourt advantage matters, especially in Boston.

This Celtics team is certainly at a serious turning point in this season. With Christmas in a few days, the “real” NBA season (as in the part where guys start taking it seriously) is about to start. This team will either come together and have us forgetting these early season troubles, or they could go down as one of the most wasted collection of talent we’ve seen in recent NBA history. For the sake of Celtics fans, we sure hope it’s not the latter.

 

 

 

Celtics Win OT Thriller Over Wizards! Now Winners of 7 Straight Games

Ohhhh boy, what a game we just witnessed. The Celtics defeated the Washington Wizards tonight in the nation’s capital with the final score in overtime reading 130-125. The game had more of a playoff type feel rather than your nonchalant mid-December matchup that it was.

Once again for this Celtics team it was “Klutch Kyrie” Irving coming up huge down the stretch with two massive 3 pointers in overtime. He finished with a game-high 38 pts and carried this team at points tonight when it felt like the offense was stagnant. It can’t be understated how impressive Irving continues to be for this team especially when the game is on the line. We all know he is a top 10 talent in this league when healthy, but when it comes to getting a clutch basket with the game on the line you would be hard pressed to find another player in this league I would rather have. He truly reminds me of another Celtic great Paul Pierce and how he would just force himself into the zone when the game hung in the balance.

As much as the overtime score of 130-125 would beg to differ, I thought this game was won on the defensive end tonight and was defined by huge hustle plays all around.  And as  per usual, no one embodied this more than Marcus Smart. He was all over the court tonight, coming up with steals and taking charges and overall just sacrificing his body for this win. Being a Celtic fan comes with a love/hate relationship for Marcus at times, we hate when he jacks up too many threes, but the hate can never outweigh the love we have when he is making plays like he did tonight. He truly does all the little things and there is no one else in the NBA outside of maybe Draymond Green that can completely change a game like he does without scoring the ball. (Something he also did tonight with 18 pts) I think at this point in the season we need to start viewing him as a strong candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.

Speaking of defense, the Celtics new secret weapon Robert Williams aka Time Lord had himself a big night and is starting to look like he was truly a steal with the 27th pick of the NBA draft. This dude is an athletic freak, plain and simple. Watching how quickly he gets off the floor is unbelievable and reminds me of how Dennis Rodman used to do that and just get to the ball faster than anyone. He finished with 6 pts, 6 boards (3 offensive) and 2 blocks, but his impact seemed far greater with him also hustling all over the floor and providing a spark by throwing down a huge alley oop dunk from Irving that seemed like he grabbed the ball from the rafters to hammer it home.

Tonight was the first game that I think the Celtics felt the impact of not having some of their key players on the court with Gordon Hayward, Al Horford and Jaylen Brown all sitting out tonight. Needless to say it was huge to have Marcus Morris step up once again with another big game going for 27 points and 9 boards. He just continues to always step up for this team and is proving himself to be a truly impactful starter in this league. His 49% FG shooting and 43% from three has been impressive to say the least and is something you can tell he has made a direct effort to improve on. He is a legit scoring threat on each possession and is helping spread the floor with other defenses having to respect that fact.

Jayson Tatum didn’t have a great night scoring but still made a huge impact leading the team with 12 rebounds. The kid maybe isn’t making the leaps and bounds in the scoring department that a lot of us predicted, but he is still putting effort in on a nightly basis and it feels like he is getting less discouraged when his shot isn’t there on a given night.

The Celtics won 19 games in a row last season, this streak now stands at 7. I’m not saying they are destined for another streak like that, but then again I’m not saying they aren’t. This team when firing on all cylinders can take down anyone in the league on any given night. When they were struggling earlier in the season I said to look out for a streak like this. I knew this team has the ability to get hot and rattle off a bunch of games in a row because they don’t necessarily rely on 1 or 2 guys like many other teams across the league do. They go 7-8 deep with players that can carry the scoring load and when you play like that it can make it very hard to get beat when you’re rolling.

One thing is for certain, this team has definitely turned a corner and are reminding teams across the league that there was a reason they were favorites to win the East and contend for a championship. These Celtics are showing all the signs that they “figured it out” and have made many Celtics fans back to drinking the Green Kool-Aid.

 

 

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