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The confusingly inconsistent Celtics (links & quotes)

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The Celtics look great against the best team and inconsistent against the rest.

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NBA: Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the most incongruous aspect of the Celtics is that they do very well against good teams and (all too often) fall of their face against bad ones.

via Steve Bulpett

“Every team in the NBA, because every game is its own entity, you better bring it or else you’ll get beat,” Stevens said. “That’s a constant theme for whatever reason, this team has not been as good in those games as the other teams have, and that certainly is bothersome, but I think there’s a number of reasons in each game of why and I don’t know that it’s always consistent. But yeah, it certainly is, it’s not a good thing to happen, and it’s largely why we are where we are, in the standings and everything else.”

Tom Westerholm explores this phenomenon with some stats as backup.

Again, the Celtics often show flashes of that potential. That could manifest itself more consistently in the postseason, particularly when you break out the four teams ahead of Boston, all of whom could be playoff opponents. The Celtics have positive net ratings against Indiana, Philadelphia and Toronto, and while every game has extenuating circumstances on both sides, the negative net rating against the Bucks is somewhat explainable since they were missing Al Horford and Aron Baynes in their bigger loss (and they were missing Baynes and Gordon Hayward last week).

So,... why can’t they be that good all the time? This is both encouraging and infuriating at the same time.

Jay King also explores this topic, and while there aren’t a lot of answers as to why this happens, Brad Stevens predictably focuses on details that the team can work on.

“(The transition defense) has not been as good as it needs to be. And sometimes it’s very evident and obvious, just purely running and sprinting back, and sometimes it’s less obvious and then we run to our matchups or we run with your guy, or we don’t get back and help, we don’t call out coverages well, those are kind of secondary issues in transition. If you’re not getting back, it’s hard to win.”

More:

Brad Stevens doesn’t appoint team captains. Here’s why (via NBC Boston)

“I spent a lot of time studying this at Butler,” Stevens said, via WEEI.com. “I’d say out of the 12 years that I’ve been a head coach we’ve rarely had them [captains]. And the reason being is that you want to empower everyone to add leadership within their own authentic way.

“We want players like [Al] Horford and [Aron] Baynes, who are the most experienced, to be vocal and active within their personality. We want our best player in Kyrie [Irving] to be vocal and do it within his personality.

Vegas odds still favor the Celtics over the Sixers. via (NBC Boston)

Despite losing two in a row and four of their last six, the Celtics still boast slightly better title odds than the No. 4 seed Philadelphia 76ers (+1000) and significantly better odds than the No. 3 seed Indiana Pacers (+12,500), who are 8-2 over their last 10 games despite losing Victor Oladipo to a season-ending injury.