Losing has consequences.
The Boston Celtics fell down NBA.com’s latest NBA power rankings Monday following a week in which they endured their first, three-game losing streak of the 2019-20 season — with setbacks coming against the Washington Wizards, San Antonio Spurs and Philadelphia 76ers — but ended their skid with a win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Boston climbed to second place in last week’s NBA.com power rankings but dropped to fourth in the latest pecking order.
“Though they’re the healthiest they’ve been in almost two months (the last three games have been just the seventh, eighth and ninth times that they’ve had each of their top five perimeter guys available), the Celtics’ first five games of 2020 were their worst stretch of the season, two narrow wins over bad teams and a three-game losing streak in which they barely scored a point per possession,” NBA.com’s John Schuhmann wrote Monday. “This is not a team that moves the ball like the Warriors of the last several years — the Celtics rank in the middle of the pack in passes per 24 minutes of possession — but the ball movement was certainly lacking (271 passes per 24 minutes and assists on just 17 of their 38 buckets) in Philly on Thursday.
“A win at home over the Pelicans doesn’t put all their issues are behind them, but on Saturday, the ball moved a lot more (328 passes per 24 and one fantastic passing sequence against the zone), the Celtics registered a season-high 74 points in the paint, and Jayson Tatum took just one mid-range shot on his way to a career-high 41 points. Through 37 games, Tatum has taken 19 percent of his shots from between the paint and the 3-point line, down from 26 percent over his first two seasons.”
Despite sliding down two spots in NBA.com’s power rankings, the Celtics held onto their No. 3 position in ESPN’s corresponding list.
“What is the best remedy for a Boston team that had lost three straight games for the first time this season?” Bobby Marks wrote. “How about a career-high 41 points from Jayson Tatum and a New Orleans team that did not have starters Jrue Holiday, JJ Redick, Derrick Favors and, of course, Zion Williamson? Tatum’s performance was one of the most efficient of the season — 22 shots with 16 makes, including 6-of-9 from 3. With three weeks before the trade deadline, the Celtics will get a good test Thursday when they travel to Milwaukee to face the top team in the Eastern Conference.”
Two days after stopping the losing streak by beating the Pelicans, the Celtics kicked off this ranking week with a comprehensive 113-101 win over the Chicago Bulls on Monday night at TD Garden. Boston will host the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, visit the Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday and end the week Saturday by welcoming the Phoenix Suns to TD Garden. Victories in each of those contests only will take Boston higher in next week’s NBA power rankings.
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