OBF: Celtics soar when blowing teams out, stumble when pushed

President Biden delivers his State of the Union Address tonight.

Load up on caffeine forward of time, if for no different motive than to be awake when the night’s fundamental occasion begins at 10 on TNT.

The Celtics go to the Denver Nuggets in a recreation that many – together with oddsmakers – see as a preview of the 2024 NBA Finals.

The State of the Boston Celtics is terrific – in your digital display screen.

Boston has the most effective numbers within the NBA. It holds a six-game lead within the loss column over Minnesota for Association-wide bragging rights. It leads the Bucks by 7.5 video games for house courtroom within the East.

The Celtics are No. 1 in total common level differential, No 1 in defensive score, No. 1 in defensive rebounds, and No. 3 in total factors scored.

The Celtics haven’t misplaced to an Eastern Conference staff at house throughout the common season for greater than a calendar 12 months.

The Celtics are the dominant betting favourite to win the Eastern Conference at -110 and Banner 18 at +230.

Celtics State Run Social Media referred to as the staff’s current successful streak “the most dominant 11-game stretch in NBA history.” Boston gained these 11 video games by a median of twenty-two.1 factors. And the streak got here on each side of the All-Star Break.

Dizzying accomplishments all.

Those who simply dropped in from Mars don’t have any motive to consider this staff ought to, if not will, lastly win Boston’s second NBA championship for the reason that Reagan Administration.

When Larry Bird lastly met Jayson Tatum on the NBA All-Star Game, it was as if a metaphorical baton was lastly being dished.

Here’s hoping Bird Flu will flip right into a pandemic within the Celtics locker room by playoff time. Thus far, the 2023-24 Celtics seem to have been absolutely vaccinated towards it.

More than another NBA franchise, the Celtics embrace historical past.

But additionally they seem hell bent at occasions to repeat that current historical past this season.

Tuesday night time, Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla spoke a few timeout referred to as with 4.6 seconds to play that no person noticed.

He stated his staff wanted to “go faster.”

He provided a lament about how the staff created “a lot of good situational stuff” however nonetheless has “small things to work on execution.”

This was not a dissertation on the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals towards the Miami Heat.

These had been a few of Mazzulla’s quotes after the historic collapse in Cleveland.

A piece of progress this staff revamped its first 60 video games in successful hearts and minds was erased in lower than minutes.

The nasty leprechauns – people who dogged Boston in current playoff runs – revisited the Celtics in what performed out as dangerous because the all-female “Ghostbusters” sequel.

There was “Stone Cold Shooting.” “Lazy Defense.” And their BFF: “Lack of Focus.” Jayson “MVP In Waiting” Tatum led the slide. He performed all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter and hit simply certainly one of 9 pictures. He should be holding and dribbling on that final possession.

No one ought to extrapolate playoff doom from a single regular-season defeat.

Nor is it rational to tear these Celtics for not successful the Finals, because it’s nonetheless March.

But it’s nonetheless all concerning the Banners.

The most disheartening a part of Tuesday’s capitulation got here when Kristaps Porzingis referred to as it a “good loss.”

Kristaps is new on the town. But this staff has suffered far too many “good” losses in recent times.

Boston has gotten extra “wake-up” calls than Cornelius Rooster of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes fame. But they go soggy at crunch time.

Whatever classes the Celtics may/ought to/would study from that loss in Cleveland will not be new.

“Play 48 minutes of defense.”

“Keep your foot on the throat/gas.”

“Finish fast.”

The eloquence of Kevin Garnett stays elusive, even with the additions of Jrue Holiday and Porzingis.

This staff lacks “grit and balls.”

Boston blew a 22-point lead and was outscored 34-11 over the ultimate 8:59 by Cleveland in shedding 105-104 Tuesday. When Boston led 93-71 within the fourth quarter, the Cavs had been +4000 to win at FanDuel.

But this recreation was not misplaced throughout the closing Celtics possession, which included Mazzulla’s phantom timeout with 4.6 seconds to play.

The Celtics blew this recreation once they determined it was over early within the fourth quarter – or perhaps – as Mazzulla stated – on Cleveland’s closing possession of the third.

Someone named Dean Wade outscored the Celtics 20-17 over the ultimate 12 minutes. In a lot the identical method Gabe Vincent terrorized the Celtics throughout the Eastern Conference Finals, Boston was crushed by one other unheralded position participant. This one finest recognized for having another person’s moniker.

With this D-Wade in Cleveland, LeBron may need one other six rings.

The new-and-improved Celtics have but to completely type underneath strain. That’s comprehensible as a result of they’ve gained three video games by no less than 50 factors, together with on Sunday towards the depleted and cowardly Warriors.

But issues get too tight across the collar in shut video games.

They want a crutch within the clutch.

When the Celtics path by 5 factors or much less, Jaylen Brown and Tatum are a mixed 1-for-10 from the ground, whereas lacking each 3-point makes an attempt. The Celtics are 0-for-9 when taking pictures within the final 5 seconds of the fourth quarter or additional time to tie the sport or take the lead. Tatum is 0-for-5, together with his clanger that ended Boston’s hopes on Tuesday.

Thanks to Boston Sports Info for these numbers.

Overall, seven of Boston’s 13 losses have come through one possession video games on the finish of regulation. Turning inexperienced late will not be an enormous deal in March.

But it’s a demise sentence come May and June. The common season ends every week and a month from at this time. In the interim, benefit from the Celtics at their finest.

Because the Celtics at their worst are by no means a couple of recreation away.

Bill Speros (@RealOBF and @BillSperos) could be reached at [email protected]