Trying a little something different tonight with a nod to our friends at the Heat Index and their postgame grades ...
» WHERE'S THE D? Celtics coach Brad Stevens said coming out of the All-Star break that he wanted to see if his team could climb back up near the top 10 in defensive efficiency before season's end. After Friday's loss, the Celtics have dipped to 16th in the league, allowing 104.2 points per 100 possessions. Narrow it to Boston's last five games and the team ranks 25th with a defensive rating of 107. The Celtics must invest themselves more in playing defense despite their record, something they most certainly didn't do on Friday. Said Stevens: "We didn’t provide much resistance all night and I didn’t feel like it was -- at halftime we would have liked to have been able to say it was scheme. But I don’t know that we ever provided just 1-on-1 isolation resistance."
» BENCH COULDN'T PROVIDE BOOST: One of the key reasons Boston has been able to hang around in games lately is because of the boost the bench has provided, particularly the combo of Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk. Both had clunkers on Friday. Olynyk fouled out in only 16 minutes of floor time, leaving the Celtics with eight minutes of Joel Anthony to close out the game. Sullinger didn't generate his first field goal until about two minutes to play. On the positive side, nice to see Chris Babb pop off the bench -- fresh off signing for the rest of the season -- and make the only shot he took (a 3-pointer) after four consecutive DNPs.
» TIME FOR A BREAK: Friday's game wrapped a stretch in which Boston played eight games in 13 days, including the last four of which were in four different cities over a six-day span. The Celtics will get some much-deserved time off to clear their minds a bit and prep for the final three weeks (and 12 games) of the season. The Celtics have slipped back a couple spots to the sixth-worst record in basketball and while every loss helps their draft cause in this final month of the season, the team certainly has plenty it would like to clean up late in the season.