BOSTON — The Boston Celtics prided themselves on being relentless throughout the 2017-18 campaign, but the will to win hasn’t always been there this season.
It hasn’t been uncommon to see Boston somewhat collapse in the face of adversity, which has caused for a handful of frustrating losses. But when things weren’t going the Celtics’ way Wednesday night, they powered through and flipped the script.
The C’s turned in arguably their most important performance of the season thus far in their 117-108 win over the Toronto Raptors at TD Garden. Despite Toronto jumping out to an early 11-point lead and rallying late in the fourth quarter, Boston persevered in order to snap its losing streak at three.
So while this heavyweight bout saw Kyrie Irving log a career-high 18 assists in a huge victory over one of the best teams in the NBA, head coach Brad Stevens believes his team’s response to less-than-ideal circumstances was the biggest takeaway.
“Yeah, I mean, I think that’s the biggest thing. I think the best part of tonight, as I said, was we responded to adverse stretches in a game twice,” Stevens said. “Start of the game down 20-8 and then when they came back and took the lead. Went up by four; we responded. And that has not been done enough at enough of a level for us to be what we want to be. And so, I guess we can talk about consistency after a few months of doing it.”
Consistency and resilience both are critical attributes the Celtics must continue to build on. No matter how well they are playing once the postseason rolls around, it’s inevitable the going will get tough come April and May. But if the C’s are able to answer the bell like they did against the Raptors, this deep, talented group should be able to handle anything thrown their way.
Here are some other notes from Wednesday’s Celtics-Raptors game:
— Aron Baynes returned to game action after suffering a fractured hand Dec. 19. The veteran big man logged nine points and five rebounds over 14 minutes, including a clutch game-tying 3-pointer with 6:44 left in the fourth.
— Al Horford collected a season-high 24 points, 19 of which came in the second half.
— Irving’s previous career-high in assists entering Wednesday was 14. He became just the second Celtics player in the last 22 seasons to record 18 or more assists in a game.
— Jayson Tatum joined Irving as the two Celtics to finish with a double-double, as the second-year forward posted 16 points and 10 rebounds.
— The Celtics shot 50 percent from the field, including a 46 percent clip from 3-point range.