After a horrendous start to 2016 which included a 4-game losing streak, the Celtics have a chance to make amends for that skid with a fourth straight win tonight in Dallas.
Last Wednesday, the Celtics stole a win (literally) from a hot Pacers team to snap their 4-game losing streak. Down three with 2:45 to play in the fourth, Jae Crowder got a steal and an easy basket to cut the deficit to one. The Celtics then got three additional steals which all led to easy layups to put the Celtics up by three. Isaiah hit a lay-up and four free throws to eventually close out the game which the Celtics won by a score of 103-94. It wasn’t their prettiest win of the season as the Celtics turned the ball over 19 times, but it was exactly what they needed to get their momentum heading in the right direction. They finally seemed to bring “it” on both ends of the floor, something they hadn’t done in their previous four games.
Friday night the Celtics dominated a Suns team that has been in shambles since they saw their star point guard Eric Bledsoe sidelined for the remainder of the season with a torn meniscus. While their defense was sub-par, (they allowed 103 points to a team that is missing their top option on offense) it didn’t matter much with seven Celtics reaching double-figures in the game. Marcus Smart turned in his first career double-double then outdid himself by gobbling up 11 rebounds for his first ever triple-double. Olynyk scored 21 off the bench including a stretch where he put up 13 straight for the Celtics. Boston had 68 points at half, and never took their foot off the gas as they coasted to a 117-103 victory at home.
Most recently the Celtics pulled out a 119-117 victory in Washington. While the players do most of the heavy-lifting game-in and game-out, it’s tough to think this win would have been possible without Brad Stevens. Up one coming out of a timeout with 30 seconds to go, everyone in the Verizon Center must have assumed the ball would stay in Isaiah Thomas’ hands. Instead Stevens drew up a delayed screen for Avery Bradley who sunk a three to put the C’s up four. After a Jae Crowder technical foul and four free throws from John Wall and Garrett Temple, Stevens set up a play for Crowder on the low block. Crowder caught the ball, turned, and laid it in for two and the win. Wall actually had a chance to tie the game but luckily missed a lay-up as time expired.
It’s funny how things work out. One minute you’re on the tail-end of a four game losing streak, you’ve lost six of seven to open the new year, and you’re pretty much at rock bottom. A week later and you’re in the midst of a three-game winning streak with a chance to essentially wipe out the previous losing-streak. The Celtics lost at home to the Mavericks earlier this season, 106-102 so they’ll be looking for revenge tonight on the road.
After giving up 100+ in two straight games, look for the Celtics to get back to their defensive ways tonight against a Dallas team that posses a lot of firepower. While they’ll look to pick up the intensity on defense, the C’s will try to keep things rolling on offense. During their three-game win streak Boston is averaging 113.0 points per game. Isaiah is averaging 26.3 points per game over this stretch while Jae Crowder is adding 21.3 points per game. Hopefully Crowder will be able to contribute another 20+ point performance against his former team. Prior to this winning-streak Brad Stevens replaced Olynyk with Sully in the starting lineup. Since coming off the bench, Olynyk has given the Celtics a solid spark, averaging 14 per game.