A loss befitting of their streak


A loss befitting of their streak

By: Rich Levine

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

Celtics hope to rebound after being outplayed by Bulls on the boards

Celtics hope to rebound after being outplayed by Bulls on the boards

Following Thursday’s 105-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls, the Boston Celtics will be on the prowl to rebound – literally – from its first defeat of the season.

Because for all that did not go right in Thursday night’s loss, the way Boston was beaten on the boards stands out emphatically.

“They got 24 more shots than us. We only turned it over (12) times,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the loss. “So that’s the obvious place they’re getting their possessions, on the glass. That’s going to be the number one thing, that has been the number one thing. It’s something we’ve talked about. We have to get better at it.”


Boston was out-rebounded 55-36 on the boards which heavily factored into Chicago’s 18-5 advantage in second-chance points.

In the Celtics' 122-117 win over Brooklyn on Wednesday, Boston won the overall rebounding battle 47-44, but had just 12 offensive rebounds compared to Brooklyn's 15 offensive boards. Despite the close margin, the Nets won the battle on the offensive glass running away, outscoring the Celtics 23-13 in second-chance points.

Stevens decided to start Tyler Zeller ahead of Amir Johnson to begin the third quarter, hoping Zeller would be a better matchup on the glass than Johnson who did not grab a single rebound in the 11 minutes of court time he got in the first half.

While Zeller did do a few good things on the glass and scoring in half-court sets, it wasn’t enough to swing the momentum Chicago was steadily gaining due to its ability to control the boards.

“I wasn’t real surprised but at the same time I knew it could happen,” Zeller told reporters, referring to Stevens’ decision to have him start the second half. “They did a good job of coming out and setting the tone. They beat us up on the boards, especially the first half. It’s something we have to get better at and continue to grow at.”

And it’s not a one-player or one-position issue, either.

Usually we think of bigs when it comes to rebounding. But Boston’s guards need to step up their rebounding game as well.

The struggles thus far have to be put in the context of this being just two games, the latter being the season opener for the Bulls who were jacked up more than usual due to it being the first game for Chicago native Dwyane Wade and ex-Celtic Rajon Rondo.

“We have to focus on boxing out,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Guards have to do a better job. Guys like me, Al (Horford), Amir (Johnson), Tyler (Zeller) ... We have to do a good job of coming in the weak side and grabbing those; just focus on it, pay more attention to detail.”