Celtics’ Win Streak Vulnerable Despite Lockdown Defense and Six Other Thoughts


Celtics' Win Streak Vulnerable Despite Lockdown Defense and Six Other Thoughts The Celtics' results continue to be the same — win, win, win — but this stretch has been anything but monotonous. It's been another exciting week for the C's — a shootout win here, a buzzer-beater there, and a stunning defensive performance over the weekend that reminded us of the Celtics' glory days back in 2007.

Each game is a new adventure, but each ending is the same. The Celtics just keep rattling off victories — Saturday night over the Bobcats makes 10 straight, and the streak shows no signs of slowing.

Or does it?

Read on. Here are seven thoughts about the Celtics' week:

1. On Monday night, we learned that all winning streaks are mortal. The Mavericks' 12-game run ended in shocking fashion, as Dirk Nowitzki missed a game-tying shot in the waning seconds and the Bucks pulled off an upset. Now, we have three streakers left, all in the Eastern Conference — the Celtics at 10, the Heat at nine and the Knicks at eight. All of those streaks are in serious jeopardy, though. One will certainly end Wednesday, as the C's and Knicks play each other; the Heat, meanwhile, have the Knicks, Mavs and Lakers all coming up within two weeks. The C's can't take their run of success for granted, and neither can anyone else.

2. The old Celtics were always prone to using injuries as an excuse when things went south. This year's C's aren't doing that. One reason why? Their opponents have had it much worse. Last week, the C's took on the Nuggets without Carmelo Anthony. Last month, they managed to narrowly dodge both Kevin Durant and John Wall (though avoiding Durant didn't help much). Later this week, they'll take on the Hawks without Joe Johnson, and the Pacers are hoping to get Danny Granger back from an ankle injury in time for Sunday's visit to Boston. The C's have been through a lot, but at least they still have their stars.

3. Despite losing Carmelo on Wednesday and being annihilated by the Celtics without him, it was a good week for Nuggets coach George Karl. On Wednesday night, he received a heartfelt apology from Kevin Garnett for last month's "cancer patient" gaffe, and later that week, Karl got his 1,000th career win with a victory over the Raptors. Karl has been through a lot in the last decade, battling cancer of the prostate, neck and throat, but he's survived them all and he's still as great a coach as ever. You root for a guy like that, both on and off the floor. Good for Karl to reach his milestone, and good for KG to show him some love.

4. Speaking of KG, his game-winning layup against the Sixers on Thursday night gave us the most intriguing six seconds of the Celtics' week. It was a beautiful play that led to the C's ninth straight win, and it's a play that wouldn't have been possible a year ago. Yet again, we see proof that having a healthy, explosive Garnett is a huge key to the Celtics' success. KG was able to use his newly regained athleticism to dash down the floor, exploit a mismatch with the Sixers' Jrue Holiday, and get a big bucket. It wasn't the first time that a healthy KG won the Celtics a game, and it certainly won't be the last.

5. Want to know how dominant the Celtics' defense was in Charlotte on Saturday night? They held the Bobcats under 20 points in all four quarters — 16, 16, 15, 15. That's an incredible feat. It's easy to let your guard down and give up easy points in a blowout win, especially once garbage time rolls around. That stat reflects effort, consistency and all-around dominance. It's the fifth time the Celtics have pulled it off in the Big Three era — interestingly enough, the last time the C's did it was against the Bobcats last season. They held the 'Cats to 13, 18, 10 and 18 points in four quarters of a 92-59 win at the TD Garden on Oct. 28, 2009.

6. While the defense is capable of incredible nights, efficient offense is the Celtics' new calling card. They're shooting 50.9 percent from the field as a team, which is out-of-this-world good by NBA standards. They currently lead the league by a mile, with the Suns sitting well behind in second at 47.8 percent. For a little perspective, consider this: Only three NBA teams in the last 15 years have finished a season at better than 50-50 shooting. The Suns did it twice in 2007-08 and '08-09, and the Jazz pulled it off back in 1996-97. These teams have one thing in common — great, great point guards. John Stockton, Steve Nash and Rajon Rondo might someday be remembered as three of the all-time legends.

7. The Celtics take on the Knicks on Wednesday night, and Amare Stoudemire will enter the game with a streak of eight straight 30-plus-point games. That sounds impressive, but there's a current Celtic who has him beat. These were Shaquille O'Neal's last 11 games of the regular season back in 2001, as a Laker: 33, 35, 31, 31, 39, 39, 34, 32, 31, 33, 33. Eleven straight games of 30-plus, and what's more, the Lakers went 9-2 over that stretch. Amare's good, but there's still room for him to do better. Maybe Shaq and the Celtics will teach him a lesson come Wednesday night.

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