3/6 Game Preview: Celtics at Kings
The Boston Celtics will attempt to build upon the momentum gained Tuesday in their blowout win over the Golden State Warriors when they resurface Wednesday night in Sacramento for the second half of a back-to-back against the Kings.
Boston had lost five of six before tipping off a week-long, four-game trip with a 128-95 pounding of the two-time defending champions in a national showcase game.
It was the third time this season that the Celtics won the opener of a consecutive-nights sequence on the road. They failed to complete the sweep on the previous two occasions.
Boston coach Brad Stevens noted to reporters before Tuesday's game that the key to sustained success in the NBA is to enjoy the ride.
"You are going to have fun in this business if you play well, you feel like you've done your job well, if you've left it all out there together and you feel like you are doing it with a group that is playing as a group. That's how it works," he said. "There are too many games. They come back-to-back, one after another, and you can't get caught up in all the other stuff that doesn't matter.
"We haven't been very good at some of those things. We haven't played well together for a lot of the year, and that hasn't been something that our guys have ran away from. They talk about it pretty openly and we got however many games left to try to right that because our window of opportunity after the regular season, if we are fortunate enough to compete in the playoffs, it's going to be very small if we are not really well connected by then."
The Celtics (39-26) almost surely will make the playoffs. They walked off the Golden State court with a nine-game cushion over the No. 9 team in the East, the Miami Heat, with just 17 games remaining.
The same cannot be said of the Kings (32-31), who will tip off Wednesday night three games out of the final playoff spot in the West.
They do have one thing in common with the Celtics: They are coming off a potential momentum-gathering win, that coming Monday night against the New York Knicks.
With a rematch with the Knicks scheduled for Saturday in New York, the Kings are a win against the Celtics away from potentially putting a three-game winning streak together in the wake of losing three straight.
Harrison Barnes, acquired by the Kings at the trade deadline from Dallas, was impressed with his new team's defense in Monday's 115-108 win.
The Knicks were held under 30 points in each quarter.
"Coming here, I always said there are plenty of people to score the basketball, so that's something that I don't necessarily have to focus on," he told reporters after the game. "Rebounding and defending: Those are the things I try to do every night, and be able to get a win."
Barnes contributed 22 points and 10 rebounds to the win, which gave the Kings a 1-2 record on their current four-game homestand.
The meeting will be the first of the season between the Celtics and Kings. They will see each other again next Thursday in Boston.
The Celtics have won five of the last six head-to-heads, with the lone loss coming in their Sacramento visit in 2017.