The Celtics have now lost three straight and have all the questions swirling again about this team’s will to win. Yes, we are entering the dog days of NBA season, but the team has still yet to prove to anyone that they can go the distance even though they still have the talent on paper. The blown 18-point lead from last night gave yet another reason to have concerns about this team. The team wasn’t at full strength, but no one else picked up the slack outside of Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown. They now have a quick turnaround and face the Spurs tonight back at TD Garden.
The Spurs will be heading into this game on a two-game dropping games to the Heat and Rockets. However, before this short slide, they rattled off nine in a row supplanting them right in the middle of the Western Conference Playoff Standings. They got hot at the right time as just a month ago, they were not sure if they were lined up for a post-season berth. Now, they are sitting in the 8th seed only 1.5 games out of the 5th seed. Every game for those teams will be crucial.
Looking at the Celtics for tonight’s game will be another question mark. The mentality is always forget about the last game and move on, but something may be different about the Hornets game. The team just completely lost it down the stretch. It seemed as if they were playing in practice as opposed to a game which they had been controlling throughout. Will that carry over to the Spurs game tonight? The Celtics look to be without Jayson Tatum and Al Horford, so they will need another big night from Jaylen Brown and Kyrie Irving.
The main cause for concern with this Celtics squad is when the lineup goes into hero ball mode offensively. Even with the three quarters of the game going smoothly last night, the team got lazy and started changing their game plan as soon as the Hornets started chipping away. This will not work against a team like the San Antonio Spurs. They are disciplined and, of course, well-coached who will take advantage of even the slightest slip ups.
Before the last two games, the Spurs had been playing as one of the best teams in the league. They had the 5th best net rating over this stretch with an offensive rating of 111.3 and a defensive rating of 105.4. It is a team that just surprises you night after night with the names on the backs of the jerseys. Some of the players may not be recognizable, but they all gel so well with this team led by DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Alridge. These two are the faces of the franchise who will be important for the Celtics to contain tonight.
The Celtics injury report continues to grow down the stretch of the season. Tatum, Horford, Robert Williams, and Aron Baynes all look to be out for tonight’s game. Robert Williams took a rough fall on a dunk attempt last night. Gordon Hayward may be cleared to play after he takes warm ups before the game. The roster will be stretched thin and the starting lineup will need to be adjusted to fill these holes left by the injury bug. Better regroup and take the time off now instead of closer to playoff action.
To win tonight’s game against the Spurs, Kyrie will need to take advantage to an inexperienced backcourt. He will have numerous opportunities to score at will, so the Celtics will rely heavily on this. Defensively, the team will need to limit Aldridge on the glass as the Celtics will not have much frontcourt help and depth. It will need to be one of the biggest focuses for this matchup.
PG – Kyrie Irving – Derrick White
SG – Marcus Smart – Bryn Forbes
SF – Jayson Tatum – DeMar DeRozan
PF – Marcus Morris – Rudy Gay
C – Al Horford – LaMarcus Aldridge
Boston – Aron Baynes (Left Ankle sprain); Gordon Hayward (Concussion Protocol); Al Horford (Knee Soreness); Jayson Tatum (Low Back Contusion); Robert Williams (Low Back Contusion)
San Antonio- Dejounte Murray (Knee)
How To Watch
Time - 7:30 EST
TV – NBATV/ NBC Sports Boston