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Celtics

Robb: Celtics’ Western Conference Road Woes Hit New Low

By Brian Robb, CBS Boston
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Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks slams it home against the Boston Celtics. (Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images)

Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks slams it home against the Boston Celtics. (Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — It looks like a fair number of teams will finish this season with records worse than the Celtics. Unfortunately, you can’t say the same about Celtics’ record on the road against the Western Conference – it’s undoubtedly the worst in the NBA.

Boston locked up its crown of inferiority last night after a 94-89 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. With the setback, the Celtics set a new franchise record and became the first squad in Celtics’ history to go 0-15 against the Western Conference.

Other doormats around the league, including the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks, have managed to squeak out some wins against the West this year on the road. In fact, there’s only one other team in the NBA this year that has a chance at the winless road record against the West, and that’s the Orlando Magic.

Currently, the Magic hold a 0-11 road record against Western Conference, but they have a couple of winnable contests upcoming in Utah against the Jazz and against the tanking Lakers in the Staples Center. If Orlando pulls out a win in just one of those four contests, the Celtics will sit alone at the bottom of the Western Conference road standings.

It’s hard to give Boston too much grief for the lackluster performances against the superior conference. Seven of Boston’s 15 losses came by seven points or fewer against the West, including games that came down to the closing seconds in Golden State and in New Orleans Sunday night.

“I think that we’ve played well in certain games,” Stevens told reporters in Dallas last night, “And we haven’t played well in others. But we came in here, had a chance at least, a little bit shorthanded from a roster standpoint, and then doing that on a tail end of an overtime game last night where we had a chance.  I feel like a broken record, to be honest, talking about silver linings, but I guess that would be the one silver lining.”

Silver linings remained present throughout the team’s performance on Monday night. Kris Humphries put up a game-high 14 rebounds, his third consecutive game with double-digit boards as he continues to make his case to remain in Boston past this season.

Kelly Olynyk’s development has been evident as well, as he’s become one of Brad Stevens more reliable contributors during the month of March. The seven-footer has posted 11.3 points and 6.4 rebounds in just 21 minutes per game during the past three weeks, including a 41.2 shooting percentage from 3-point range.

Performances like these, combined with the energy of role players like Chris Johnson and Phil Pressey, indicate that there is still no quit in the Celtics (on most nights), despite the lost season.

“I’m frustrated by our lack of success,” Stevens said after the game. “But I’m not frustrated by our effort. Our guys battled, came up with a bunch of loose balls and did a good job.”

Dating back to the 2012-13 season, the Celtics are currently riding a 20-game losing streak against the Western Conference. Stevens and Co. won’t have a chance to end that slump until the 2014-15 season.

In the meantime, this undermanned roster will continue to work hard to try to ensure they don’t fill up any other negative sections of the team franchise record books during the final 14 games of the season.

Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.

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