Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Some contests they won routinely; most, they didn’t. They pulled out close game after close game. The Celtics’ average margin of victory during those 16 games was 9.8 points. In the past 20 years, the NBA has seen 18 win streaks of at least 15 games, and of those, only the Denver Nuggets’ 15-gamer in 2013 – with an average margin of 10.2 – was near as narrow. All the others produced MOVs between 11.3 and 16.8.
The Celtics traded away arguably their two best perimeter defenders this past offseason, and have vaulted from 12th in defensive rating to first. The addition of Aron Baynes alone does not explain how they’ve morphed from the league’s fourth-worst rebounding team to its third-best – a development that’s helped them win seven games in which they’ve shot a lower percentage than their opponent. And their offense is … well, Smart takes the third-most field-goal and 3-point attempts on the team, and he shoots 27 percent from the field and 25.3 percent from deep.
They’ve subsisted on Horford’s pristine defensive rotations, Jaylen Brown’s man-to-man clamp-downs, Tatum’s ability to attack closeouts and finish at the rim, Baynes’ nasty screens and dirty work in the low post, Irving’s something-from-nothing playmaking brilliance, and on Smart’s sprinkling of everything. The closest thing to a blueprint they created during their streak was, “defend like madmen, eke out enough points to keep things close, and let Kyrie take over down the stretch.” It was maddeningly effective.
During Boston’s 16 game winning streak, the Celtics played the last eight games in 16 nights. That’s a game every other night for more than two weeks. In that time, there’s little to no time for practice which has been a factor in Boston not being quite as sharp in the last few games, as they were at the start of the streak. After Thanksgiving, Boston plays three games in four nights with a pair of days off to follow before they return to action. There’s a very good chance that the Celtics will use one of those two days to practice, something this team desperately needs to clean up some of the minor mistakes that were big problems in their loss to the Heat on Wednesday.
NBC Sports Boston – Blakely’s takeaways: Moving on without the streak
NBA players are constantly saying “On to the next one,” because they finish playing one game and the next one is only a day or two away, already on their radar. And sometimes that’s good, because after your team loses – even if it’s the first L in five weeks – you want them to get right back out there and kick some ass. The Celtics have that opportunity tonight against struggling Orlando (six straight losses).
What should we expect going forward? On one hand, the Celtics probably won’t win 16 in a row again, or continue to win 84.2% of their games for the entire season. This is especially true when you consider the recent erratic production from the second unit and the relentless injury bad luck, from Hayward to Horford to Smart to Irving to Morris (whose sore knee is bothering him again). They also have 24 games in the next 44 days, starting tonight, before a four-day break leading to their match in London (vs. Philly on January 11).
On the other hand, even after allowing 104 and 102 points in their last two games, the Cs still comfortably lead the league in defensive rating. After London, the schedule loosens up with more off days, meaning more time for practice and rest. And the Celtics have Brad Stevens, early front-runner for Coach of the Year.
Remember those factors as the Cs go “on to the next one.” While you’re at it, consider that if the Celtics go 44-19 (69.8%) for the remainder of the schedule, they’ll finish 60-22. Wouldn’t that be something?
Related: Herald – End of Celtics’ winning streak exposes flaws in their game
On Page 2: Making a Statement
It appears that tonight will be the debut of the Celtics’ “Statement Jerseys,” which were unveiled in September. The unis are black with green and white trim, and are infinitely better looking than the hideous grey sleeved jerseys worn the past couple of years as an alternate. (Not providing a link to a photo, because no one wants to see those rags again.)
In related news, if you’ve been wondering why the Celtics have been wearing green at home so often, and why now sometimes neither team wears white, here’s the reason:
- No more home whites or road colors. As of this season, home- and road-uniform designations have been eliminated. Home teams can now wear whichever uniform they choose, and road teams must wear a design of sufficient contrast. How will this play out on the court? Some teams may opt to keep wearing white at home, others may come up with new protocols (the Bulls, for example, have announced that they’ll wear red at home), and others may change things up from game to game. One thing’s for certain, though: We’ll see a lot more color-versus-color games, which is a good thing.
I didn’t know of this official change until doing some research for this item. After so many years of automatically seeing home whites vs. road colors, this new unpredictability is going to take some time to get used to.
And, finally: A Thanksgiving leftover
While Christmas is the NBA’s big holiday, Thanksgiving is all about football. Not one NBA game was scheduled yesterday. Still, there were some good tweets about hoopers, this one being the best I saw that featured the Celtics:
The Rest of the Links:
NBC Sports Boston – Celtics’ cup has runneth over so far this season
Bleacher Report – My Game-Day Style: Jaylen Brown
Boston.com – Putting in a good word for some sports media folks