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Celtics take aim at lucky 13

By JIM FENTON

The Enterprise

BOSTON — They have gone 26 days since losing a game, back on October 18 against the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Boston Celtics have been rolling since dropping that home opener, putting together a 12-game winning streak.

Heading into tonight's game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center (7:35 p.m.), the Celtics are 12-2, their best record through 14 games since the 2008-09 team was also 12-2 on the way to a 27-2 start.

A win over the Nets would make it 13 in a row for the first time since the 2010-11 season with an early-season showdown against the Golden State Warriors awaiting on Thursday night.

In honor of the 12 consecutive wins, here's 12 reasons why the Celtics are flying high.

Veteran leadership: Kyrie Irving and Al Horford have provided the necessary guidance for a team that has so many young players through their play and knowledge.

Irving, who is listed as questionable for tonight's game, has adjusted to his new team in a hurry. The only thing to slow Horford down was a concussion that kept him out two games.

The No. 3 picks: In back-to-back drafts, the Celtics selected Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, and it looks like they hit a home run.

Brown is applying the experience he gained last season and is making an impact while Tatum is poised like few 19-year-old players and looks as if he'll be a very good one down the road.

Brad Stevens: The coaching he provides allows the Celtics to adapt to so many situations, and he kept them going after Gordon Hayward's gruesome injury.

The newcomers: In addition to the play of Tatum, the Celtics are getting solid contributions from rookies like Daniel Theis and Semi Ojeleye, both productive when called on.

Shane Larkin, who was in Europe last season, has also helped in clutch situations.

Rozier's improvement: Now in his third season, Terry Rozier looks like a completely different player. His confidence is soaring and his offense has grown significantly.

Inside help: One of the reasons for Horford's solid start is having Aron Baynes alongside up front.

Baynes is giving the Celtics toughness and rebounding, and is allowing Horford to spend less time at center.

Smart factor: Marcus Smart is shooting just 29 percent, but he continues to make clutch play after clutch play.

Smart is never going to be a reliable offensive player, but Stevens feels a lot better when he's on the court.

Morris returns: Marcus Morris has played just five games, but he's averaging 12.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in 22 minutes. There's nothing flashy about him, but Morris is a solid veteran.

Improved defense: The Celtics are allowing just 94 points per game on 43 percent shooting. Defense was supposed to be a problem area, but it has been a definite strength.

Better rebounding: The Celtics are outrebounding opponents, 56.4-49.7. No one saw that coming after the way they struggled the past few seasons, but Brown, Tatum, Morris and Rozier have helped the cause.

Moving the ball: The Celtics are averaging 22.5 assists per game as the ball keeps moving until an open shot is found.

Staying focused: The Celtics are fast becoming a team that doesn't get rattled. They overcame 18-point deficits on back-to-back Fridays, first on the road against the Oklahoma City Thunder, then last week against the Charlotte Hornets.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

 

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