Blakely's takeaways: Celtics don't get trapped looking ahead

A. Sherrod Blakely
NBC Sports Boston
<p>The streak? The looming matchup with the Warriors? The Celtics are just playing the game in front of them - an approach that worked against Toronto.</p>

Blakely's takeaways: Celtics don't get trapped looking ahead

The streak? The looming matchup with the Warriors? The Celtics are just playing the game in front of them - an approach that worked against Toronto.

BOSTON – Facing a team at the end of a long road trip. A schedule that has you matched up against a not-so-great team, followed by one of the game's elite team.
 
These matchups are known as "trap games," the kind that often lulls a good team into delivering a ghastly performance.
 
The Celtics have had a few like that in this still-young season, with another one on the horizon Tuesday at Brooklyn, a matchup that comes just 48 hours prior to Boston hosting defending NBA champion Golden State.
 
So .while much of the talk right now centers around the Celtics potentially rolling into the game against the Warriors with a 13-game winning streak, Brad Stevens and his players are well-versed enough to know that looking beyond the Nets is just a set-up for failure.
 
Stevens has said despite the impressive run his players are on now with 12 consecutive wins, he doesn't hear them talk about the streak.
 
That's because while the players are ecstatic that the wins keep piling up, they understand that they are still a work in progress with flaws that will be exposed if they're not careful.
 
"I'm feeling real good [about the streak]," said Marcus Smart. "We definitely have a lot to work on. But I like the way we've been playing, the toughness that we bring to every game."
 
And as far as Stevens not hearing the players talk about the streak?
 
"When he's around, we don't," quipped Terry Rozier.
 
Here are five takeaways from Sunday's 95-94 nail-biter over Toronto, which extended the streak: 
 
ROZIER'S EVOLUTION

Terry Rozier has been a major catalyst for the Celtics off the bench this season. He's averaging career highs in several categories and has been Boston's leading scorer off the bench six times - more than any other Boston reserve this season.
 
SMART'S PLAYMAKING
Shot-making hasn't been a strength of Marcus Smart's game, so along those lines, he has been consistent this season. But the one area where his game has shown noticeable growth is his playmaking. For the season, Smart has a 2.69-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, which would be a career-best mark if he maintained it throughout the rest of the season.
 
NOTHING AVERAGE ABOUT AL 
Al Horford's return to the lineup after missing two games with a concussion was a rousing success both individually and for the Celtics. He led all the team with 21 points on 8-for-9 shooting, showing the kind of bounce that led to teammate Terry Rozier proclaiming we're seeing Horford playing like a "young Al Horford." When told about Rozier's comments, Horford laughed it off. "I don't know if a young Al Horford played like this," he said. "It's many years of working on my game and try to play this new way. This is the style that the NBA is shifting towards. It took me a couple years to get comfortable and play like this. A young Al Horford couldn't shoot 3's."
 
THEIS IS NICE
Daniel Theis was not one of the bigger name offseason pickups for the Celtics, but that doesn't take away from what has been an impressive start to his NBA career. He was once again tasked with defending players bigger and in some respects stronger, too. His activity around the rim was huge in the victory over Toronto. Theis had two points and eight rebounds (tied for the game-high) with an assist, steal and two blocked shots.
 
REBOUNDING SUCCESS CONTINUES

There are lots of factors that come into play when it comes to winning in the NBA. Among them is the ability to rebound. This is the one thing that the Celtics have been pretty consistent with most of this season. In fact, Boston is 11-0 this season when they win the battle on the boards. Against Toronto, the C's out-rebounded the Raptors, 46-36.
 
 
































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