Celtics Searching for Stability After Splitting Back-to-Back

Coach Brad Stevens remained even-keeled Thursday night after watching his Boston Celtics dish out a season-high 30 assists on 39 field-goal makes during a thrilling, 120-106 win over the Toronto Raptors.

“I'd like to string a few weeks together of good ball movement before I get too excited,” he stated, keeping in mind his team’s inconsistency throughout the first third of the season.

Sure enough, their inconsistency returned the following night while hosting the Detroit Pistons on the back end of a back-to-back at TD Garden. Boston had no problem maintaining its same level of defensive intensity from the night before, but it failed to sustain its offensive rhythm as it saw its assist numbers cut precisely in half in a 108-102 loss.

“I thought we had moments where we had some great defensive possessions,” Stevens said. “The thing that did not carry over from last night was the ball movement. And that made it difficult to find great looks, and as a result, I think we struggled.”

The frustrating part for the Celtics is that they know they have the talent to create and convert great looks, but they just aren’t doing so on a nightly basis, which is reflected in their 13-12 record.

“We just have to step up and make better plays throughout the game,” said Jaylen Brown, who scored 27 points during the loss. “Tonight was tough. They were a physical team. I give credit to Detroit, they came out, set the tone, physicality. We only matched that in certain parts of the game. At times we’ve just gotta make better plays. We’ve got good basketball players, but we just have to make better plays.”

One factor that’s not playing in Boston’s favor is that it has basically had a revolving-door rotation throughout this season due to a plethora of injuries. Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, and Payton Pritchard have all missed significant time at various points this season, while others, such as Brown and Robert Williams, have also missed a few scattered games.

All of those injuries have forced Boston to get creative with their lineups and learn on the fly during games since they do not have many opportunities to practice due to the condensed schedule. But Tatum believes that knowledge could be quite useful down the line, as it will hopefully strengthen the C’s in the long run.

“I think this is such a unique season with everything going on in our league and just around the world,” said Tatum, who stuffed the stat sheet with 33 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. “With everything going on I feel like, obviously, health is a big thing, getting everyone healthy. I think who peaks at the right time this season is going to be very, very important. Obviously, we'd love to be winning every game we play right now, but we can learn a lot from every game we play right now, regardless if we win or not. We’re learning a lot about ourselves right now.”

With that being said, there’s also a lot that the Celtics have yet to learn about themselves, which has created a tough situation for them early in the season. However, Stevens remains hopeful that they can smooth out this roller-coaster ride over time.

“There’s a lot of unknown because we’re inconsistent,” said Stevens. “If we were more consistent as a team there would be a lot more known. I think we’re capable, but there’s a big difference between being consistent and capable in this league. And consistent wins out at the end of the day and has a chance to play for things, but we’re not there yet.”

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