What Has Led Celtics To Become Dominant Road Team? Ime Udoka Explains

Boston earned it's third straight 20-point road victory Sunday


March 21

The Celtics continue to play like a team that other teams should be worried about seeing in the postseason, and a major reason behind their extended surge has been Boston’s ability to play so well on the road.

The Celtics earned their third consecutive 20-point road victory Sunday night, a 124-104 verdict, against the Denver Nuggets in a game which Boston led by 25 points at the half. The Nuggets currently are the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference playoff picture with NBA MVP candidate Nikola Jokic limited to 23 points on 23 shots. The rout is a bit more noteworthy given that Boston started its four-game Western Conference road trip with a 22-point win over the Golden State Warriors before smacking the Sacramento Kings by 29 points on Friday. It’s continued a theme as Boston now is 10-1 in its last 11 road games since the start of February.

What’s led to that success?

“I do think we kind of embrace playing against the home crowds,” Celtics head coach Ime Udoka said after Sunday’s win. “We do have a lot of fans on the road, as well, but our thing is be who we are, regardless of home or on the road we want to come out and set a tone. I think getting off to these really good starts defensively, and teams know what we’re about now, the numbers show that and our thing is to come out and kind of prove that. And so that’s a message each and every night against different opponents.”

Boston continues to have the best defensive rating in the league. Defense travels.

“One night you’re going against (Steph) Curry and (Klay) Thompson, Trae Young and (Ja) Morant and all these different matchups, but we want to be who we are and be able to adapt to everybody and play a certain way,” Udoka said. “And so the offense is sharing the ball. Great movements, 29 assists tonight, 33 the other night so that ball is popping and guys are making shots. But defensively, setting that tone from the start is the real message night in and night out.”

Of course, it has helped that the Celtics (and their fans) have traveled so well during much of the stretch. Jayson Tatum is receiving chants of “MVP!” in opponent’s buildings along with “Let’s go Celtics” cheers. Udoka believes that is a product of the team playing good basketball, and fans wanting to root on a team that is playing good basketball.

“It was great. It was great,” Jaylen Brown said of the crowd after the win. “We enjoy feeling the love, energy from opposing arenas, etc. Coming out tonight felt almost like a home game. So, we love to feel that energy and tonight it definitely helped us put on a show tonight.”

The surging Celtics now are just a half game back for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Boston will play the second night of a back-to-back Monday against the Thunder in Oklahoma City.

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic
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