Three Challenges For Celtics In Upcoming Five-Game Homestand

Big 10 drops a huge punishment to 4 (four) ……………..

off NBA In-Season Tournament elimination, the Boston Celtics return to action, still as leaders of the Eastern Conference, opening up a five-game homestand Friday night against the New York Knicks.

In handling the disappointment of falling short against a team that took a near-historic beating just a few weeks prior on Nov. 1 — Boston defeated the Indiana Pacers, 155-104 — the season still moves on. However, that doesn’t diminish the learning lessons in place that became most evident during that quarterfinal round loss on Monday night.

At moments, the Celtics have been reduced to a nearly unrecognizable team through their re-appearing shortcomings on the floor. They, more than perhaps any other team in the East, understand the cost of those blemishes, therefore, having the remaining 75%-plus of the season left to play means plenty of time to clean it up.

Here are the three biggest challenges for the Celtics before hosting the Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic at TD Garden:

) Limit the self-inflicted damage as much as possible
There’s no way to avoid the piled-up damage from committing 18 turnovers through four quarters. Boston found that out the hard way against Indiana, quickly ending its tournament run.

Regardless of how talented the starting lineup is, no team will bow just based on talent. If the execution isn’t present, the Pacers’ of the league will attack nearly every time given the opportunity. That can’t be the norm for an NBA Finals contender. There needs to be an established sense of urgency to prevent the head-scratching losses that can — and in Boston’s recent seasons, have — establish bad habits that become difficult to shake off toward the end of the year and entering the playoffs.

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So, combating that and re-emphasizing those habits like making the right read, protecting possessions, guarding the perimeter and slowing down the offensive pace to find a highly efficient shot, all need to be exercised within Boston’s next five games.

“Overall, we just gotta tighten up in the little areas of our game. Execution, discipline, turn the ball over, defensive assignments. Things like that, just little stuff we need to tweak,” Celtics forward Sam Hauser told reporters at Wednesday’s practice, per CLNS Media video. “Once we do that, we’ll be good. … Getting better from mistakes. That’s all it

The Celtics lead the East in defensive rating (108.2), but in their last five games played, opponents have scored 110.8 points, dropping them to sixth. They’ve also been in the middle of the pact, ranking 17th in turnovers committed (14.2), but that average has jumped to 16.4 in that same stretch, dropping the C’s to 26th in the NBA.

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