Fast starts not panning out in C's-Sixers series


Fast starts not panning out in C's-Sixers series

WALTHAM You never want to spot any team points, especially in a playoff game.

But if you're the Boston Celtics and you just so happen to find yourself on the short end of a start-of-the-game run by Philadelphia, that might not necessarily be a bad thing.

Each of the first four games in this series began with the eventual loser on a 5-0 spurt or better.

If anything, it serves as yet another reminder that fast starts may not necessarily prove fruitful in achieving the only thing either team truly wants -- a victory.

"That's just what it is," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "A 9-0 lead in the first quarter, that's nothing; it really isn't. Having a bigger lead in the third quarter the way we had (in Game 4), is better. But the early lead you got a whole game to play still. When I'm watching games, people make so much, too much of a big deal about that stuff."

Such early deficits seem to provide the necessary focus for teams on the short end of it to re-group, recover and from there, surge ahead to eventually take control of the game.

It also speaks to how the Celtics, whether it's the first quarter or fourth, have shown a propensity to ease up when they jump out to a big lead.

"A little bit of it is human nature," said Celtics guard Ray Allen. "When you go up like that, you become complacent. It's just human nature. I hate it for us, to be that way."

It's the kind of thing that doesn't necessarily creep up on you, either.

Allen recalled a couple of empty possessions in Game 4.

"We took the easiest shot available as opposed to working our offense," he said. "they went down, got call after call, got to the free throw line, scored without the clock moving. Now the momentum was on their side."

And so went the game. If Game 5 goes along with the pattern in the first four, the Celtics will get down early and rally back for the win.

"You can't depend on that being a pattern," said Celtics forward Paul Pierce. "We just have to be consistent at what we do; use our home crowd to our advantage. We lost our last game at home. We gotta play better at home this time around."

But if they get behind early, not to worry.

The C's have seen that before in this series.

And the ending -- a Celtics victory -- would make the early struggles more than worth it.

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”