Celtics-Nuggets review: C's missing rhythm in loss

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Celtics-Nuggets review: C's missing rhythm in loss

DENVER It took the Boston Celtics more than half the season to develop a successful rhythm.

It took less than a week for them to lose it which was among the many contributors to their 97-90 loss at Denver on Tuesday.

"You get off four or five days, it kind of takes away the momentum," said Boston's Jeff Green who led all C's in scoring with 20 points. "But I still feel we came out strong; executed very well."

There were signs of slippage during the C's practice on Monday afternoon.

"I felt like we had a good practice, but you could see a couple things we were a little rusty on," said Celtics guard Courtney Lee who had 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting. "Today was a good measuring stick for that."

Although the C's weren't able to sustain the kind of consistent execution that has become a trait of theirs recently, they were still in the game up until the final seconds of play.

To see the C's struggle as they did on Tuesday, is not all that surprising.

Kevin Garnett has seen it happen time and time again, and not just to the Celtics, either.

Although the Nuggets won, Denver guardforward Andre Iguodala missed all seven of his shots from the field and finished with just one point.

"He's known as a shooter, can score the ball," Garnett said. "He didn't look like he had much of a rhythm from the free throw line or anything. That's the league, though. You come back from a long rest. You get one day to prepare for multiple games. I think your rhythm gets better as the games go. We're no different from that."

Boston's inability to establish a rhythm was certainly one of the biggest reasons for their loss on Tuesday. Here are some other factors outlined prior to the game, and how they actually played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Second-chance points will likely play a prominent role in tonight's game with these two teams at opposite ends of the spectrum in that category. Denver averages an NBA-best 16.4 second-chance points per game while the C's are dead-last at 9.9 per game.

WHAT WE SAW: It's no surprise that Denver won the rebounding war and with it, multiple opportunities for second-chance points. Boston limited them to 13 second-chance points which is below Denver's season average. But similar to the loss at Charlotte, Boston found itself coming up short in the efforthustle categories such as points in the paint (42-32), second-chance points (13-10) and fast break points (11-8).

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Jason Terry vs Andre Miller: Neither will start, but it's safe to say that both will have a say in the game's final outcome. It was Miller's strong play in the latter stages of their Feb. 10 game that helped Denver get into overtime. And it was Terry's defense against Miller that played a pivotal role in the Celtics finally putting Denver away.

WHAT WE SAW: This was a wash for the most part, with neither player putting up big numbers or making a major impact. Terry had seven points along with three assists while Miller had 11 points off the Nuggets bench, to go with two assists and a blocked shot.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jeff Green continues to play at a level comparable to what the Celtics were hoping for this season. He has reached double digits scoring in eight of Boston's last 10 games. That includes a 17-point performance against the Nuggets on Feb. 10.

WHAT WE SAW: Green almost single-handedly brought the Celtics back in this one. His back-to-back 3s early in the fourth took what looked like a Denver take-over in the making, and made it a one-point game that had the Nuggets fans a bit nervous. He finished with a team-high 20 points off the bench, shooting 8-for-12 from the field while also registering a pair of assists to go with a steal and two blocked shots. "All the credit to my teammates," Green told CSNNE.com. "The way we've been playing as a whole; we've been helping each other out. My team has been getting me open, and my shots have been falling."

STAT TO TRACK: Boston hasn't exactly made it rain with 3s this season, but that might change tonight. Denver has allowed each of its last three opponents to make at least 10 3s each. Among that threesome you'll find the Celtics, who had a bakers dozen's worth of 3s on 13-for-30 shooting in their meeting earlier this month. For the season, Boston ranks 27th in the league in 3s made per game (5.6) while opponents are averaging 8.5 made 3s against Denver this season. Only Charlotte (8.8) is allowing more made 3s per game this season.

WHAT WE SAW: Boston was slightly better than their season average in 3s made against the Nuggets, but it still wasn't enough for the win. And while Denver didn't exactly put the defensive clamps on Boston, limiting the C's to just 7-for-20 shooting on 3s was indeed a step in the right direction for Denver.

Tatum easing into new challenge with Celtics

Tatum easing into new challenge with Celtics

BOSTON -- While the newest Boston Celtics were scattered about while at a community service event, 19-year-old Jayson Tatum was sitting in a really comfortable-looking chair, resting. 

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind unlike any he had ever experienced, beginning with the pre-draft process, to workouts, to the draft itself and all the appearances and media engagements that have followed. 

“It’s a lot,” Tatum, grinning, told CSNNE.com. “But I’m taking it one day at a time.”

That steady-as-she-goes approach served him well during his lone season at Duke. 

Keeping an even-keeled approach will bode well for him as he gears up for his first taste of NBA basketball beginning with summer league practice this week in preparation for next week’s summer league action which begins in Salt Lake City. 

Boston’s summer league opener will be July 3 against Philadelphia and the top overall pick Markelle Fultz, at the University of Utah’s Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Tatum, who has not played in a five-on-five game since Duke’s loss to South Carolina in the NCAA tournament, is admittedly excited to get back on the floor this week. 

“I can’t wait,” he said. 

Celtics Nation feels the same way about Tatum, selected with the third overall pick in last week’s NBA draft. 

Although it’s only a preseason game, there will be expectations and with that, possibly some added pressure for Tatum to show he was such a coveted player by the Celtics. 

“That’s why Duke helped me a lot,” he told CSNNE.com. “Duke, the best program in college basketball, we were always on the national spotlight good or bad, whether we were winning or losing. That will help me a lot preparing for the Boston Celtics.”

And like Duke, Tatum will have to fight his way on to the court although he readily admits the challenge is much greater in the NBA. 

“Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder . . . we didn’t have those guys at Duke,” Tatum said. “It’s gonna be tough; just try my best and get in where I fit in.”

Tatum said he will at times lean on his more experienced teammates, one of which was a former teammate of his – sort of – in Jaylen Brown. 

“I’ve known Jaylen for a while,” Tatum said. “We played with and against each other in high school at AAU camps. 

Tatum added, “at the AAU camps, sometimes we were on the same team and sometimes we were not.”

While much has been made about how the two are similar, Tatum sees both having strengths that complement, rather than compete, with each other. 

“He’s further along than Jaylen was skill-wise and he’s not as far along as Jaylen physically,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “Again, he’s 19 years old. I don’t want to put any expectations … I want to give him time to grow. We’ll see. He’ll definitely have a role, get a chance to play. And how well he performs is up to him.”

Tatum’s assessment of his game and Brown’s goes as follows:

“He’s a lot stronger, bigger than me,” Tatum, who is 6-foot-8, 204 pounds, acknowledged. “He’s much more athletic. Offensively, I think that’s what I excel in, being smooth and my ability to score. I can just learn from him, the things that he went through last year.”

One of the things he has already picked up on, is that Brown is a pretty smart – and at times clever – dude. 

Not long after Tatum picked jersey number 11, Brown, who wears number 7, took to social media and came up with a 7-11 theme that has already lead to some pretty snazzy t-shirt designs. 

“I thought it was funny,” Tatum said. “It’s catchy; I like it.”

And the Celtics really like Tatum’s game which has been compared at times to former Celtic great Paul Pierce. 

“I hate to make those comparisons when kids are 19 and let his game evolve into whatever it is,” Ainge said. “The similarity is they have good footwork. They both have really good ways to create space for shots. But the similarity … they’re both very good defensive rebounders. Those are two things that stand out to me with Jayson that are Paul characteristics.”

Tatum knows he’s a long way from being in the same company as Celtic royalty such as Pierce. 

Before then he must first earn minutes on the floor which will not be an easy task. 

But Tatum’s demeanor, much like his game, has seemingly always been a bit more mature than most of his fellow basketball brethren. 

Tatum credits his parents, Justin Tatum and Brandy Cole.

“They raised me to be different, be more mature and stand out above the crowd and be my own person and be comfortable in my skin,” Tatum said. “That’s how I’ve always been.”

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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0:41 - Tom Curran, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith discuss the Rockets acquiring Chris Paul and how that trade can actually have an affect on the Celtics plans.

5:06 - Ian Thomsen joins BST to talk about if the Celtics are the front runners for Paul George, what would be too much to give up to the Pacers, and why it’s important to sign Hayward before trading for George.

11:21 - Evan Drellich joins from Fenway Park to discuss Rick Porcello getting his 10th loss of the season and if the struggling offense might be a season-long problem. 

14:58 - Tom Curran and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Nate Burleson saying that Julian Edelman is the most under-appreciated receiver in the last 10 years.