A loss befitting of their streak

53089.jpg

A loss befitting of their streak

By: Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

ORLANDO, Fla The Celtics lost an ugly one on Saturday.

They lost a game in which they never found a rhythm. They lost a game in which they showed flashes of brillianceglimpses of the team that you hope theyll be come springbut couldnt hold it together. They lost a game that, outside of a few signature moments, lacked any lasting significance. (After all, its not even January and theyre not completely healthy). They lost a game that, for a number of reasons beyond your or even their control, left you feeling unsatisfied.

In other words, they lost a game completely befitting of the win streak that preceded it.

That might look weirdcomparing a 14-game win streak to an ugly 86-78 loss, but honestly, when you look back, wasnt the Celtics streak just about as odd and unsatisfying as the teams Christmas Day defeat?

Dont get me wrong, it was fun while it lasted, but just as Saturdays loss wont change the way you feel about these Celtics, did the streak really change anything, either?

Did you feel any better about their chances to win a title on Christmas morning than you did on Thanksgiving morning? Did the fact that 14 straight games ended with the Celtics on top make you more confident that thats where theyll finish the season?

Sure, wins were better than losses. But the way those wins came never blew you away. From time to time, yes, there were games where the Cs flexed their muscles and showed you how great they can be. But just like Saturdays game, the streak was all over the place. They never really found a rhythm. Outside of KGs lay-up against Philly and Pierces game-winner at MSG, there was nothing that happened that will really stand the test of time; nothing that youll remember past this season. Nothing that happened was actually significant. After all, its not even January, and the Celtics werent completely healthy.

Even as recently as Wednesday night, Doc lamented how, despite all the wins, the Celtics werent improving. And as a result, neither were our expectations. It was the oddest feeling. The Celtics went a month without losing, but you couldnt feel any better about their chances. There were games when they played great; games when they just played well enough to win; games when they didnt even play well enough to win, but still managed to get the W.

But regardless of how it happened, most of the time, those wins just left us feeling neutral. When we spoke of the streak, it was never, Look out, NBA! The Celtics are on a rampage! It was How the hell do they keep winning all these games?

There was no rhyme or reason to how they were doing it. Sometimes the defense was great, but they also allowed more than 100 points in eight of 14. Sometimes the offense was clicking, but then it would disappear for long stretches. There were plenty of positives along the way. Of course, there were positives. And there certainly werent enough negatives to create any level of concern. But still, it was still strangely unsatisfying. You wanted to get feel better about it. But you just couldnt.

I guess thats just life with the 2010-2011 Celtics.

Basically, even though its only December, we already know what this team is capable of. We already have our expectations set in stone, and know that if theyre healthy, theres no reason why they cant get there. On top of that, we learned last year that what happens in the regular seasonespecially this earlyhas little to no effect on the end game. We wasted far too much time overreacting to the day-to-day grind of last season, and this time around, we wont fall for it. We know how good this team can be. And we wont let 14 wins or one loss change that. Nothing will.

And in the meantime, well follow intently and wait patiently for the playoffs to begin, becausewhether it's a gift or a cursewe now know that's all that matters.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Crowder on Cousins' style: 'Step up to the test or you get run over'

Crowder on Cousins' style: 'Step up to the test or you get run over'

BOSTON – There was a point in the fourth quarter when Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins was fouled trying to score which brought about an automatic, intense and angry scowl from the all-star center. 

He raised his hand as he were going to strike back at the potential assailant. 

And then he saw the man was Jae Crowder. 

MORE:

Cousins, who had a game-high 28 points, then went to the free throw line, incident-free. 

“I’m not one those other cats he be punking,” said Crowder with a grin.

That moment was one of many throughout Friday night’s game when Crowder made his presence felt when the game mattered most, and wasn’t afraid to mix it up with whoever stood between him and helping the Celtics win – even Cousins. 

But as Crowder explained following Boston’s 97-92 win, that moment was about two physical players who have developed an on-the-floor rapport that speaks to their intensity and desire to win at all costs. 

“He’s going to bring the game to you; his physicality,” said Crowder who had 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting. “He’s a very physical type of guy. If he senses you’re not physical at all, he’ll let you know. He’s a dog down there; he’s a bull. I love to go against a player like that. He’s going to give you his best shot each and every night. You either step up to the test or you get run over.” 

As soon as the two made eye contact, Crowder knew it was one of the many intimidation methods used by Cousins against opposing players. 

Crowder wasn’t having it. 

“That’s my guy; he’s my guy,” Crowder said of Cousins. “He plays a lot of tactics against a lot of other players. I’ve earned that respect with him. He knows I’m going to fight him just as hard as anybody else. We leave it on the court. He’s a good friend of mine. We’ve become friends, just playing ball, playing basketball the right way.”