Returning home following a 114-108 loss at Toronto, you always wonder about how a team will respond the second night of a back-to-back, particularly coming off a loss.
“It’s hard. But you know, this is the way the NBA works,” Boston’s Al Horford told reporters following the Toronto game. “We have another one (tonight). A team that beat us pretty bad the first time. We need to get back home, rest up and get ready for (tonight).”
While fatigue is always a concern, the second night of back-to-back games seems to create a greater level of focus which usually results in wins.
Boston comes into tonight’s game against Washington with a 5-3 record on the second night of back-to-back games, with their last second night of a back-to-back being a 117-108 win over New Orleans on Jan. 7.
As far as any residual effect following Tuesday’s loss, a game in which the Raptors closed out the game by outscoring Boston 23-6, that seems unlikely with this team.
“We’ll leave it here,” Thomas told reporters in Toronto following the loss. “Once we get on that plane it’s on to the next one; focus on Washington. This week is big for us. Take care of home court (tonight) and go into Atlanta and get one there.”
While that may be the goal, it’s a lot easier said than done.
This is especially true for tonight’s game against the Wizards (19-18) who are currently eighth in the Eastern Conference after winning six of their last eight games.
During those eight games, Washington has been an effective team at both ends of the floor. Offensively they are shooting 50.1 percent in that span which ranks fourth in the NBA. And the Wizards’ effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) is .562.
Defensively, Washington has limited opponents to 36.9 made baskets which is the sixth-lowest total in the last eight games in the league. In addition, the Wizards have a defensive rating of 102.7 which ranks fifth in the league in the last eight games.
And that defense can only be helped by watching the video from Boston’s loss to Toronto on Tuesday.
Toronto did more than just beat the Celtics.
They showed exactly how effective a team can be which makes a strong, conscious effort to keep the ball out of Isaiah Thomas’ hands.
The Raptors didn’t come up with the “Thomas Rules” or anything like that.
After all, Thomas still made an impact scoring the ball as he finished with a team-high 27 points on 8-for-19 shooting. Thomas also had seven assists with just one turnover.
You can rest assured that the Wizards will also try and get the ball out of Thomas’ hands as much as possible, and force Boston’s other players to step up and make plays which was something they did not do enough of on Tuesday.
“We have to figure out how to play when guys do that,” Thomas said. “Guys have to make plays on that end.”
Dissecting all that went wrong in Tuesday’s loss as a precursor to tonight’s game, can be an exhausting endeavor that doesn’t necessarily bring about any closure or improvement for the Celtics.
“My biggest thing is we have to get a lot better,” Stevens said. “I probably saw more encouraging signs of progress than I did negative.”