Celtics’ Win Streak Ends, But Offers Clear Lessons Entering NBA All-Star Break

Boston had its nine-game win streak snapped against the lowly Pistons


Feb 16, 2022

The Boston Celtics were forced to enter the NBA All-Star break on a sour note following a tough-to-swallow loss to the lowly Detroit Pistons on Wednesday after having played some of their best basketball to the tune of nine straight wins.

It feels like a long time — before NBA analysts and some fans were calling for the trade of either Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum — since the Celtics have been down this road. They lost to an inferior opponent, an opponent they had no business losing to, in a game they, despite being without two starters, had no business dropping.

Maybe it feels so long ago because that team Wednesday, the one who closed the final five minutes playing iso-ball on offense and the one who allowed 112 points on defense, felt like it was in the rear view. After all, the Celtics entered Wednesday’s clash winning 11 of their previous 12 contests with a 15-4 record dating back to when Brown and Tatum first stuck up for each other (and themselves) in early January. Wednesday’s loss dropped Boston to 15-5 during the stretch and 34-26 on the campaign.

“Yeah, it’s bittersweet. It’s gonna leave a sour taste for sure, but kind of look back and reflect on the things we did well over the streak,” Celtics head coach Ime Udoka said on a postgame video conference. “Didn’t do it tonight, defensively and even offensively. Like I said, it wasn’t as crisp as we’ve been, but the effort was there overall.

“But what I did tell them is congrats on what we’ve done,” Udoka continued. “Obviously it’d be nice to finish it off the right way, but take a rest on your bodies and minds and think about what we have coming forward. So that nine is done, it would have been nice to finish it off the right way, but we still got big things coming up.”

The Celtics finished with 29 assists on 42 made baskets, one night after 28 assists on 46 baskets in a dominant win over the Philadelphia 76ers. The ball was moving, but it stopped during the closing stretch with consecutive isolations to end the game. The group is best when the ball is whipping around, going inside-outside, all while making the extra pass and the end of Wednesday’s game best proved that.

And Boston’s defense, which has been stout throughout the last month, also paled in comparison to what has been shown lately. Perhaps that’s because Boston was without Marcus Smart and Robert Williams, but Udoka shared how that’s no excuse. They were without Williams and played the second half without Smart on Tuesday in Philly. The C’s are at their best when they’re able to rely on that end of the floor.

“Not happy about it, but looking at it from a different way, I think we should obviously take some time off, but there needs to be an edge for us coming back. We’ve been playing good basketball,” Al Horford said postgame. “Coming back, we understand we have to hold that standard and continue to play at a high level, continue to get better as a group.”

Celtics guard Jaylen Brown specifically noted how he’s hoping a minor setback like Wednesday will help the team refocus and continue to grow following the break.

“Personally, I continue to learn and grow from my mistakes, knowing when to be aggressive, when to be observant, when to make the right plays, etc.,” Brown said postgame. “Basketball is a game that’s you can never stop getting better at so as a team, as a individual, just continue to learn and grow. I think when we get to those moments where everything is on the line all our experiences that we have been in tight games, etc., hopefully when the biggest moments come we’ll be able to stand tall.”

The Celtics will return to action Feb. 24 against the Brooklyn Nets.

Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images
Boston Celtics wing Jaylen Brown
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