The Celtics are 16-7 since the All-Star break, and 6-2 in the last eight. Their only two recent losses were by one point to the Spurs (who are on a 10 game winning streak and now have the best record in the West) in a game in which Boston’s defense held San Antonio to just 28 points in the second half; and in Chicago (the team with the best overall record in the NBA) on the second night of a back to back when the C’s were too tired to hold on to an early first half lead.
But also in their past four Boston has beaten Miami and Indiana (who have the second and third best records in the East, respectively), holding them each to just 72 points, season lows for both teams. The only top team the Celtics haven’t played this week is Oklahoma City, who used to be the #1 seed in the West until losing back to back games to the Heat and the Pacers, the two teams Boston just beat.
Last night in Indiana Rajon Rondo had 12 assists, giving him 10 or more for the 16th consecutive game. It’s the longest such streak in the NBA in 20 years (John Stockton had a 29 game streak in 1992). Greg Stiemsma played maybe his best overall game as a Celtic, making all six of his shots (4-4 FG, 2-2 FT) in 27 minutes of action, while posting a line of 10 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 5 blocks, as many as the entire Pacers team. Boston’s defense also held Indiana to 11 total assists, one fewer than Rondo had himself.
Tonight the C’s head back home to face the Sixers for the third time in the past month. The first two didn’t go so well, but now the teams are each heading in different directions. At the moment Philly is closer to missing the playoffs than they are to leading the Atlantic Division (2 back of Boston, 1.5 ahead of Milwaukee), and last night they lost at home to an Orlando team that’s in complete disarray. If the Celtics can get over the hump and finally beat the Sixers this time, they’ll have a three game lead with just ten left to play.
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