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4:30 PM PT5:30 PM MT6:30 PM CT7:30 PM ET23:30 GMT7:30 4:30 PM MST6:30 PM EST3:30 UAE (+1)00:3019:30 ET5:30 PM CT22:30 , March 24, 2019
TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts  Attendance: 18,624

Slumping Celtics look for answers against Spurs

According to STATS
According to STATS

San Antonio Spurs at Boston Celtics

  1. The Spurs beat the Celtics when these teams met in San Antonio on December 31, 120-11. San Antonio has gone 13-1 versus Boston since 2011-12, the team's best record versus any opponent in that span.

Spring has sprung in Boston, but the green of the season has done little to inspire the struggling Celtics as they try to make a run to a home playoff series.

As uneven as Boston has played this season, it may have hit rock bottom on Saturday and will need to find a different gear -- and some real motivation -- when it hosts the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.

The Celtics head home for the second game of a road-home back-to-back after losing 124-117 in Charlotte on Saturday.

It was the third straight defeat for Boston, which squandered an 18-point, fourth-quarter lead and was outscored 30-5 to end the game. "When you lose an 18-point lead, there's a lot of things that go wrong," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said afterward.

Before the game Stevens told his team that the final stretch would be used to evaluate who's reliable for the playoffs. He couldn't have liked the way his team responded to the call to arms in Charlotte.

"If you don't have that reliability, you don't have that toughness," Stevens told NBC Sports Boston. "If you don't have the ability to move on to what's next you don't last very long. When we get to that moment when we have to know if everyone is going to be on one page doing the exact same thing, who is reliable? Ultimately that's the end of the story."

Boston played without Aron Baynes and Al Horford because of lingering ankle and knee injuries, respectively, and without Gordon Hayward as he goes through concussion protocol.

The Celtics also lost rookie forward Robert Williams to a nasty fall in the second quarter. He walked slowly back to the Boston locker room and did not return to the game.

Kyrie Irving led Boston with 31 points in Saturday's loss, with Jaylen Brown adding 29.

The Spurs head to Boston carrying the baggage of a two-game losing streak, with the most recent setback a 111-105 loss in Houston on Friday.

James Harden poured in 61 points in the Rockets' win, the most points any player has scored against San Antonio during the Gregg Popovich coaching era, surpassing the 57 Irving scored with Cleveland in a double-overtime victory in March 2015.

The loss dropped San Antonio into the eighth spot in the Western Conference standing with nine games to play.

"It's crunch time now," San Antonio guard Bryn Forbes said. "If you do what you're supposed to do, you'll get the outcome you want. If you don't, you've got to deal with whatever happens."

Forbes led San Antonio with 20 points in the loss in Houston, while Derrick White added 18.

The Spurs trailed 62-47 at halftime and fought back to get in the game before Harden put on his show.

"You play with your heart but you play between the ears, also," Popovich said. "We played smarter and harder in the second half, but you can't do that against a good team like Houston or any team in the NBA. You've got to play for 48 minutes. At the end, James put on an MVP-type performance so that's that."

The Spurs have won nine of their past 11 games; Sunday's tilt in Boston is the middle game of a three-game road trip that ends Tuesday in Charlotte.

San Antonio captured the only other meeting with the Celtics this season, grabbing a 120-11 victory on Dec. 31 in the Alamo City.

--Field Level Media

Updated March 23, 2019

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