Wed, 21 Apr 2021

Improved Celtics ready for Clippers' arrival

Field Level Media
02 Mar 2021, 09:19 GMT+10

The Boston Celtics are back on a winning streak for the first time in more than a month and they will try to add to it when they host the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.

The Celtics beat the visiting Washington Wizards 111-110 on Sunday, two days after opening their four-game homestand with a 118-112 win against the Indiana Pacers, marking their first back-to-back wins since Jan. 24-25.

The latest victories came on the heels of a three-game losing streak against the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans, all of whom had a losing record when they met the Celtics.

"When times get hard, it's so easy to separate," Boston guard Kemba Walker said. "The hardest thing to do is to come together. That's what we did. We've got to believe in each other."

The Clippers will be playing the fourth game of a five-game road trip. They are 1-2 so far after losing to the Milwaukee Bucks 105-100 on Sunday.

Los Angeles went 8-7 during February after posting a 16-5 mark through December and January, prompting Kawhi Leonard to reason that the Clippers are still a long way from playing championship-quality basketball.

"Some teams come down in the flow of the pace and know exactly what they're doing," Leonard said. "Those are the teams that usually win. You're not thinking, you're coming down, getting into a set. But we're all learning from each other. We're learning (coach Tyronn Lue), so it's just a learning process."

One reason the road trip hasn't been as successful for Los Angeles is the 3-point accuracy from Paul George, which has slid the past three games.

He's 4 of 19 from beyond the arc in that span, dropping his season mark to 45.9 percent, which was still sixth-best in the NBA entering the week.

Lou Williams, the third-leading scorer for Los Angeles behind Leonard and George at 12.4 points a game, is also looking to start off the month on a strong note after averaging 16.6 points in February.

The Celtics were without their second-leading scorer on Sunday against a much-improved Wizards team.

Jaylen Brown, who's averaging 25 points a game and was selected to his first All-Star team last week, was a late scratch against Washington because of a sore knee. He is questionable to play Tuesday.

Daniel Thies picked up the scoring slack against the Wizards and contributed 20 points, more than double his season average.

"Hopefully, we can continue to play like this, the way we played (Sunday), with some consistency and some togetherness," Walker said. "We just stayed together, you know. Especially when, early on in the game, when (the Wizards) started off hot. We didn't put our heads down, we just kept building each other up."

The latest loss by the Clippers dropped them behind the Los Angeles Lakers and into third place in the Western Conference.

The Clippers won't face the Lakers again until April 4, and won't play the West-leading Utah Jazz again during the regular season. On the agenda in the short term is finding confidence as the postseason approaches.

"As a team, I don't feel like we're there yet," Leonard said. "We're looking to the sideline a lot for plays. I feel like our pace has pretty much slowed down."

--Field Level Media

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