Celtics Lead

Skidding Celtics Look to Move Past Ugly Stretch of Losses

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The Boston Celtics are currently in a bit of a skid, faring just 1-3 over their last four games. The biggest factor that has played into this poor four-game stretch is the team’s health. Injuries have plagued the team all season, yet they remain with the 3rd spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The all-star break was supposed to help everyone return to full health. This was not the case, as Kemba Walker has only played in two of the eight games since the break due to a knee issue. Then in an embarrassing and ugly loss to the Nets at home, the Celtics lost Gordon Hayward to a knee bruise and Jaylen Brown to a hamstring injury. The injury bug has been unfortunate for the Celtics, but they’ve weathered the storm until recently. 

The Ugly Losses

In this 1-3 stretch, the Celtics have had three ugly losses. The worst part about all of them is they have all been at home. The first was the 111-110 loss to the Rockets on 2/29, where Russell Westbrook dropped 41 points and the Celtics blew a 17-point lead. The next ugly loss came on 3/3 against the Nets, where the Celtics blew a 21-point lead while Caris LeVert dropped 51. Marcus Smart was not very pleased after this loss, as there was a controversial call at the end of regulation. This led to LeVert taking three free throws, subsequently sending the game to overtime. Here’s Smart after the game: 

The most-recent loss came Friday, as the Celtics fell to the Jazz, 99-94. The Jazz seemingly got every loose ball in this game and the Celtics could not buy a bucket. The Celtics were outplayed in all three of these games and are looking to rebound against the Thunder on Sunday.

Positives from the last four games

The past four games have been disappointing but there have been positive signs. Robert Williams has been playing important minutes. Williams, who made his return against the Nets, has not logged significant minutes but has logged very meaningful minutes. In his first game back, Williams entered at the 7:28 mark in the fourth quarter and played until he was subbed out with just 1:06 left. He also played meaningful minutes against the Cavs (14) and Jazz (16).

Kemba Walker returning has been another positive. Semi Ojeleye looks as if he has found his confidence, dropping 22 points and six rebounds in the win over Cleveland, and nine points with seven rebounds in the loss to Utah. Ojeleye could have a major role moving forward. 

What’s ahead

The path to the two seed becomes much more difficult, as the Celtics face three straight playoff teams. They will have to do this most likely without Jaylen Brown. Brown has already been ruled out for tonight’s game against the Thunder. This injury could potentially have him miss Tuesday’s matchup with the Pacers. Worst case scenario he misses Thursday’s tilt with Milwaukee. In their first meeting with OKC on February 9th, the C’s emerged victorious on the road 112-111.

The Celtics had their full arsenal for this game. Jaylen poured on 17 points and led the team in plus-minus. Gordon Hayward — who is listed probable for Sunday — is having a strong season, averaging 16.9 points and 4.1 assists per game. Hayward and the Celtics will need all hands on deck during this stretch to keep pace with the Raptors for the East’s two seed. 

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