Celtics maintain home form

Boston are 21-6 at TD Garden, among the NBA's best, but 11-13 away record continues to rankle

BOSTON • When it comes to protecting their home court, the Boston Celtics are among the very best teams in the National Basketball Association (NBA), with a 21-6 record this season.

But it is on their travels where Brad Stevens' players have fallen short, going 11-13 away from the TD Garden.

While it was again smooth sailing for Boston as they swatted aside the visiting Charlotte Hornets 126-94 on Wednesday for their seventh win in eight games, Terry Rozier admitted later that his team get "caught on the road, and sometimes, we take that for granted".

The guard, who filled in for the injured Kyrie Irving and had 17 points, 10 assists and five rebounds, told news website MassLive.com: "We've got to make it just as important as (if) we were playing at home. And obviously, every possession matters. We got to know that."

The Celtics have been trying to find the panacea for their travel woes all term to no avail.

"I have no clue," teammate Marcus Smart, who contributed three points, said. "If we knew what that was, we wouldn't be having these struggles.

"But it's part of the game, and that's what it is if I had to give a reason, I'd say it's just part of the game. We play 82 games in the regular season. It's a long season and things happen."

Jaylen Brown, who came off the bench to lead the Celtics with 24 points, claimed it was down to having "a whole new team".

He said: "We have a lot of guys who were here last year, (but) it's a different rhythm, it's a different environment and we're learning. Everybody's learning, adjusting on the fly and we're doing all right."

Boston's Terry Rozier (right) taking a shot against Charlotte's Marvin Williams during the second half at Boston's TD Garden home on Wednesday. Rozier scored 17 points to help his team to a 126-94 victory over the Hornets.
Boston's Terry Rozier (right) taking a shot against Charlotte's Marvin Williams during the second half at Boston's TD Garden home on Wednesday. Rozier scored 17 points to help his team to a 126-94 victory over the Hornets. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PART OF THE GAME

But it's part of the game, and that's what it is if I had to give a reason, I'd say it's just part of the game... It's a long season and things happen.

MARCUS SMART, Boston Celtics' guard, on his team's difficulty in replicating their home form on the road.

Their struggles to replicate their home form on the road can also be partly pinned on Gordon Hayward. Even though he contributed 12 points against Charlotte, the All-Star, who has yet to get back to his best after missing the whole of last season with a broken ankle, is having his worst term since he was a rookie, with an average of 10.7 points per game.

The forward conceded to The Boston Globe that his shooting slump was "obviously frustrating" and "some days are stones", but he did not want to dwell on the negatives as "you go through stretches like that".

However, coach Stevens is optimistic that Boston, who are fifth in the East, are still "on a steady path of progress" after a stellar January that saw them go 10-1 at home, with the only blemish being a defeat by the league's front runners, the Golden State Warriors.

He said: "We've had some bumps in the road like that three-game road trip, but we've made progress in a lot of areas and it probably shows in the offensive numbers.

"The defensive dips aren't as many, and that's all we're trying to do. We need to be as consistent as possible, but we need to show great progress. I'm encouraged, but I'm hesitant to be overjoyed until we keep doing it and doing it and doing it all the way through the season."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2019, with the headline 'Celtics maintain home form'. Print Edition | Subscribe