Celtics' uneven play makes wins hard to come by

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Celtics' uneven play makes wins hard to come by

BOSTON One hole plugged, another springs a leak.
It has been that kind of season for the Boston Celtics.
The latest hole in the C's efforts to stay afloat in the Eastern Conference is the offense struggling while the defense steadily improves.
Such uneven play has made getting wins hard to come by, something the Celtics know all too well after dropping their fifth straight game this season, 89-86, to the New York Knicks.
It is only the third time since the 2008 championship season that the C's have lost five straight.
But what's more disturbing is that the two previous five-game losing skids came during last season's lockout-shortened season.
Limiting the Knicks, one of the league's highest scoring teams, to under 90 points is usually a recipe for success for the C's.
Boston came into Thursday's game 8-1 when holding opponents to 90 or fewer points.
"For some reason we are just not hitting our shots," said Kevin Garnett who was 3-for-9 against the Knicks. "The shots we usually take and are comfortable with. They're not going in, they're not falling for us. But it's just one thing after another man.
Garnett added, "we had problems on the defense, we really had to fix that. Got that under control a little bit now. You know on offense, we have to find ways to get some easy buckets. We've just got to keep going at this thing."
But with the losses continuing to mount, there has to be a growing concern that players will start pressing and trying to do too much offensively.
But that didn't seem to be the C's problem against New York.
While the Knicks' zone certainly gave the Celtics some problems, they still managed to get a lot of open to lightly contested shots both from the perimeter as well as on drives to the basket.
"We missed a lot of open shots," said C's head coach Doc Rivers. "But I don't think it's pressing. I just think we're missing shots."
And with those missed shots, the Celtics once again blew an opportunity to get a much-needed win.
Thursday's loss was especially hard to stomach when you consider that the Celtics did so many things right.
In fact, the only real issue they had was an inability to make shots.
"I like the way we competed tonight," said C's captain Paul Pierce. "We have got to do it night-in and night-out. Like I said, our offense has to get better. There's nights where our offense is really letting us down when we put this type of effort on defense in."

O'Connor: Zizic would go top-10 in 2017 draft

O'Connor: Zizic would go top-10 in 2017 draft

It seems the Celtics can throw yet another piece onto their treasure trove of assets. 

The Celtics stashed two of their first-round picks from the 2016 draft overseas and in the process have seen 23rd overall pick Ante Zizic establish himself as a very promising NBA prospect. 

The Croatian center, currently playing in the Turkish League, has boosted his stock with a strong season in what’s expected to be his last before joining the Celtics. Appearing on Toucher and Rich Thursday morning, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor said that Zizic has improved to the point that he would be a top-10 pick in the 2017 draft. “He looks really good,” O’Connor said. “I liked him last year when I first watched him. I thought, ‘Good energy big man. He’ll have a solid career,’ but then the more you watch him, the more you see. 

“This year, he’s really taken a step forward. All his strengths look better. All the things he was already good at like screening, rebounding and rim-protection, he looks better. But he’s also starting to flash a little bit of a mid-range jumper, and he’s never had bad mechanics, but now that shot’s starting to fall. So maybe he can be more than that energy big man. Maybe he’s a little bit more dynamic than that. 

“If I’m the Celtics, I value him as you’re getting a top-10 pick this yea. I think he’d go around nine or 10 in this draft.”