Celtics take lessons from Warriors loss into Denver


The visiting locker room at Oracle Arena is used to players and coaches licking their wounds after a humbling defeat.

But within the rubble of their 109-105 loss on Saturday, the Celtics came away with a sense of discovery as to what the next progression needs to be for them going forward.

“We were a lot more locked in,” said Jaylen Brown. “We haven’t played with this intensity in a while.”

Building off of that will be a chief goal tonight as the Celtics close out their four-game West Coast trip against the Denver Nuggets.

Two of the more impressive performers in the loss to the Warriors, Kyrie Irving and Brown, had one of their best nights as a backcourt tandem earlier this season when Boston edged the Nuggets 124-118 at the TD Garden.

In that game, Irving had 33 points on an efficient 12-for-19 shooting display. Brown was also impressive, scoring 26 points on 9-for-12 shooting.

Like Saturday, both players were assertive and effective against the Nuggets, the kind of traits Boston will benefit greatly from if they’re on display tonight.

Indeed, Boston's success has to be a team thing.

Despite being just 25, Irving is an elite, proven talent in the NBA. No one questions his ability to perform at the highest level when the stakes are great.

Still, he has been in the league long enough to know that whatever success the Celtics have as far as making a deep playoff run, will involve several of his younger teammates.

And part of their growth includes understanding how to elevate their play when the games matter most, without necessarily trying to do too much, which could be detrimental to the ultimate goal of advancing from one round of the postseason to the next.

Win or lose, the Celtics are intent on finding elements to build upon from one game to the next, which is essential to a team with so many new faces still in the process of learning what it takes to step their game up between now and the postseason, and beyond.

“For us, we take it as a learning experience. They’re an incredible team,” said Irving, referring to the Warriors. “We’re a developing young team trying to be great as well. You just have to have that confidence.”

And it’s games like tonight’s game against the Nuggets that can only strengthen the Celtics along those lines.

While Boston (34-16) is fighting to hold on to the top seed in the East, the Nuggets (26-23) are clinging to the eighth and final playoff seed out West. Denver has a one-game lead over the Los Angeles Clippers and trail New Orleans and Portland (27-22) by one game.

So, this too will be another game in which the Celtics are facing a team as hungry for a victory as they are.

And with a 19-6 record at home, the only team with a better home record in the West than Denver are San Antonio (20-4) and Minnesota (20-6).

There are plenty of factors that will come into play tonight, including whether Boston can play aggressively consistently. 

“Having a young group, it’s one of the things we need to learn; be more consistent,” said Al Horford. “We’ve done it a lot of times this season.  For some reason, the past two weeks we haven’t been playing at the level we need to. Hopefully, we can build from this. We have a great opportunity to out there and finish the trip 2-2.”


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