Thursday, November 28, 2013
Leftovers: Home unsweet home
By Chris Forsberg
BOSTON -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens isn't certain why his team's record at home this season (2-5) isn't better. But he's certain it has nothing to do with the level of support from the fans, even as Boston navigates this rocky transition process.
"It’s certainly not the atmosphere; the atmosphere has been great," Stevens said after a feverish fourth-quarter rally came up short in a 100-93 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night. "Of all the atmospheres I’ve been in in the NBA, and I haven’t been here very long, this is by far my favorite.
"With the passion and how loud the fans are, [Wednesday's game] was outstanding. But I guess the one thing I will say is I think the last three teams we’ve played in here are awfully good basketball teams, and I can’t think back before Indiana and Portland, to be honest. I forget who we played before that. At the end of the day, we need to get better at home, we need to get better on the road, we need to become a better basketball team."
Boston owns wins over Utah and Orlando at home, while falling to Memphis, Milwaukee, Charlotte, Portland, and Indiana. For whatever reason, Boston has been better away from TD Garden posting a 4-5 record on the road.
"We have an away home advantage, if that makes any sense," quipped second-year forward Jared Sullinger. "We gotta win more at home, that is what’s going to get us into the playoffs. Winning on the road and constantly battling at home."
Before you dive into your own first plate on Turkey Day, some additional leftovers from Wednesday's game:
- INJURY BUG BITES LEE: We'll get a better idea of Courtney Lee's injury timetable in the coming days, but you can't help but feel for the sixth-year guard. Lee was one of Boston's most efficient scorers this season, averaging 7.6 points on 51 percent shooting over 16.9 minutes per game. He's averaging 1.043 points per possession, according to Synergy Sports data (the only Boston player above 1 point per play, ranking him in the 87th percentile among all league players). Lee injured an ankle last year and struggled to get back into the rotation. He had separated himself a bit his year, earning consistent second-unit minutes. If he misses time, you have to wonder if it opens a door for MarShon Brooks to get some floor time.
- NICE RING TO IT: One part of the sprawling mural that decorates the TD Garden hallway outside Boston's locker room is a group photo of the 2008 title team, which includes an emphatic Tony Allen bookending one side. Asked where he keeps his championship ring, Allen wouldn't divulge, joking, "I can’t tell you, somebody might go try to find it." Allen said he toyed with the idea of bringing out the ring as motivation to his team when they were in the Western Conference finals last season. "I had the mindset that I was going to bring it out, had we made it to the [NBA] Finals," said Allen. "But that didn’t happen. So hopefully we make it back to where we were and I’ll bring it out a little earlier, give guys some motivation."
- LINE OF THE NIGHT: Asked if he felt Zach Randolph and Jared Sullinger were similar as undersized big men, Stevens quipped, "I don’t know that either of them I would characterize as 'undersized,' even though they are a little bit shorter."
- A LITTLE HELP HERE: The Celtics finished with only 14 assists on 38 made baskets, one of their lowest assists percentages of the season. Asked about the low total, Stevens first deadpanned, "That's really bad," then noted how Boston only had half that number at one point in the fourth quarter. "So I do think this: They shut down the passing lanes pretty well, we missed a few that we normally would make, especially around the rim, but we kept the ball on the side of the floor too much," said Stevens. "And, boy, if you do that against them, that’s hard, on one side of the floor. Allen’s tough now. That guy can guard and guard and guard. He’s one of the best that we’ve played against in my early tenure here."