Boston Celtics have a quiet and important week on agenda

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 28: Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics dribbles downcourt against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at TD Garden on January 28, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 28: Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics dribbles downcourt against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at TD Garden on January 28, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

In desperate need of a small reset, and a lot of rest, the Boston Celtics receive chances at both in the coming week.

A huge, if not controversial win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, stopped the bleeding of a three-game losing streak. Definitely no need to panic, as the Celtics were missing up to three regular starters at various points last week. And it’s always a high point to pick up a victory over the Lakers, in a good season or bad.

Boston’s reward was some much-needed rest, with only two games on the agenda between Jan. 31 and Feb. 5. The next one, however, is a big one as the Eastern Conference race heats up.

Boston Celtics week ahead

Home is where the Celtics hope to thrive for their next two games, hosting two foes they have yet to lose to so far in 2022-23.

First up, on February 1, the Celtics welcome the Brooklyn Nets to town. Brooklyn is fresh off a 17-point victory over the Lakers, who were playing without LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Nets are playing better and currently sit in the fourth-spot in the East.

Boston is 2-0 against the Nets this season, winning both games by 11. In the first meeting, Jaylen Brown (34 points, 10 rebounds) and Jayson Tatum (29/11) each posted a double-double.

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A little over a month after that, Tatum again led the way with 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists. Tatum struggled from the field (7-22) and, with Brown out, Marcus Smart picked up the slack with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Kevin Durant missed the second meeting between the teams, and will miss Wednesday’s game as well, though he expects to be back before the All-Star break.

After this Eastern Conference affair, Boston plays host to the Phoenix Suns on Friday (2/3). The Suns, too, are playing better as of late as they jockey for playoff position.

The Celtics won with ease over the Suns back in early December, picking up a 27-point victory. Brown and Tatum each had 25 points, despite a sad night between the two of 5-16 from three-point range.

Boston was missing Al Horford and Robert Williams III in that game.

Injuries have been a concern in recent weeks for the Celtics, as has a bench suddenly feeling depleted rather than invigorated.

Bench depth recent issue for Boston Celtics

Smart has been out over a week with an ankle sprain and Williams, Horford, and Malcolm Brogdon have all missed some time in recent games.

These injuries have shown Boston’s depth is not the same as it was the first part of the season, especially with only Brogdon contributing on a regular basis.

When healthy, there was no real concern. Brogdon, Derrick White, and Grant Williams provided a solid nucleus, with others contributing on a occasion.

One player who has been missing from this equation is Sam Hauser, who has regressed with each passing month this season. Up until the end of November, Hauser looked like he was going to be a regular contributor. He was shooting over 50 percent from the field and, in November, averaged 8.3 points per game while shooting 46.2 percent from deep.

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The winter months of December and January have not been kind to Hauser. He’s hit less than 40 percent from the field and didn’t even attempt a field goal against the Lakers, dropping his scoring average to 3.8 in January.

Three-pointers have not been falling for Hauser, either, though January has seen slight improvement (11-35) over December’s frigid 28.6 percent.

Getting Hauser back on track is an absolute must. Steady contributions from he and Payton Pritchard, if given minutes, could ease some of the burden placed on Tatum and Brown. Hauser is getting open shots and even if he can get back in the 40s percentage wise then this Boston bench will get a boost.

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Two games in the course nine days is enticing at this point of the season, especially fresh off some recent struggles and battling health issues. The Celtics can use this down time between games to rest, make adjustments within the rotation, and gear up for a two-week push towards the All-Star break. Then, a longer rest will occur, giving the Celtics the real boost they need to maintain this winning pace.