Keys for Celtics success ahead of All-Star break


Boston Celtics’ Semi Ojeleye (37) shoots against Toronto Raptors’ Chris Boucher (25) and Kyle Lowry during the second half of Thursday’s game at the TD Garden. (AP photo)

Spencer Marks, Sports Writer

With just 13 games remaining before the NBA All-Star break, the Boston Celtics are still on track for a trip back to the playoffs. Although their play has been somewhat shaky lately, the Celtics still sit at the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. To maintain this secure spot in the standings, Boston has their work cut out for them given the current shape of their club.  

After a hard loss to the Phoenix Suns, Brad Stevens made an effort to make sure his team keeps their heads held high going into their next games.  

“I told the team that now I am more encouraged than discouraged because you’re going to have days like this, and when you have days like that you going to give yourself a chance to win. You know we have to be nine points better, 10 points better on our bad shooting days. But that could have been one that could have easily been worse because of the way we shot the ball,” Stevens said.  

Perhaps the most important factor at this time is the health of Jaylen Brown. The wing is one of the top-two scorers for the Celtics to this point in the season. The team must keep a close eye on Brown to make sure he doesn’t reinjure himself. Brown suffered from knee soreness and has sat out in games against the Los Angeles Clippers and the Phoenix Suns recently. 

Before Tuesday night’s game against the Utah Jazz Celtics head coach Brad Stevens answered questions of Brown’s status. 

“Like I said, was feeling better Sunday,” Stevens said. “So, he was trending towards playing today.”  

This ended up being the right call by Stevens as Brown led his team with 33 points and eight rebounds. There was not much to be worried about on the court from him Tuesday night. In his postgame press conference, he was asked about his knee.  

“Yeah, it definitely felt better in the second half, but in the third quarter there was a stretch where it was bothering me a little bit,” Brown stated. “It is moving in the right direction. I am looking forward to standing on the court and being there for my team.”  

Boston’s offense wasn’t effective in Sunday’s game, but Stevens’ advice to the team seemed to float over their heads two days later as the Celtics lost to the Utah Jazz by a score of 122-108.  

After the loss, Jayson Tatum was asked about the lack of breaks between each game this year.  

“We’re not having much time to practice, but we’re all professional. We should be able to learn things on the fly,” said Tatum.  

March 25 marks the NBA trade deadline. The Celtics have the opportunity to be active in the coming weeks leading up to this date. After gaining a trade exception for $28.5 million after sending Gordan Hayward to the Charlotte Hornets, the Celtics now have a chance to make a big move.  

Rumors are also starting to float around as Kevin O’Connor from ​The Ringer reported what he’s been hearing regarding the Celtics. 

“Late Saturday evening, I received a flurry of texts from multiple executives around the league who said the Celtics were up to something. What they’re up to is unclear, but league sources have long said Boston is searching for upgrades to bolster its wing and big man position,” said O’Connor.  

The Celtics have yet to leak any names of players they have their eyes on, however, it’s fair to expect a lot of rumors in the coming weeks. 

The Celtics host the Toronto Raptors this Thursday at 7:30 pm. Being just one game above .500, Boston could use a win to get their team back on the same track they started on earlier this season.  

Photo courtesy of Nashua Telegraph.