Celtics close 2014 on a high note with a win at home over Sacramento 106-84

BOSTON -- The Celtics earned their 11th win of the season on New Year's Eve against the Sacramento Kings in their only trip to Boston this season. The Celtics are still lacking a serious punch, but the New New New look Celtics identity is starting to take shape. They were able to take advantage of some external factors (Cousins’ hot head, new head coach of the Kings, Kings squad reeling from Mike Malone’s firing, etc.) and pick up a much needed win to close out 2014.

Stevens continues to tinker with line up: Starting his third different player at the point in the last five games, Brad Stevens seems to be taking the approach of finding the best lineup per matchup on his way to finding out who the starting five of the 2014-15 Celtics will be.

“We’re still searching (for consistency in the starting lineup),” Stevens said. “But we’ve got to stop searching soon. That’s the bottom line. But I’m hopeful (inserting Turner) will be a good change.”
The New Identity: Don’t look now, but the Celtics were doing a lot of things right during this game. As identified by the crew on the Comcast broadcast, a key to the game would be to contain DeMarcus Cousins, which the C’s were able to do in the first half. Good defense by the Celtics were able to pull Boogie out of his game plan, frustrate the big man, and limit him as much as possible.  Things boiled over in the 4th quarter when Cousins whipped Marcus Smart to the floor, earned his second technical on the day and got the hook.  

Turner looked great at the point. He looked experienced and showed leadership on the floor-- something this Rondoless C’s have struggled with since the trade. While head coach Brad Stevens will most likely continue to toy with starting lineups and rotations throughout the first half of the season (and more than likely beyond), the team is starting to look more and more comfortable in their own skin. Jae Crowder, Brandon Bass, Brandan Wright, and Jameer Nelson all saw time and showed signs of starting to gel. Crowder especially injected energy and effort into this game.

The Celtics were able to maintain a 10 point lead going into halftime without Jeff Green having scored in the first two quarters of the game.  The lead only grew in the second half as Smart, Green, Bass, and Olynyk started to chip in on the offensive effort.

The Ohio Boys: Sullinger and Turner added a ton of guidance to this game. Sullinger continues to develop into a consistent offensive contributor and really carried the weight against the Kings during a (hopefully brief) Jeff Green scoring slump. Turner turned in a fantastic effort adding 11 assists and strong leadership throughout the game.

Gut Reaction: It wasn’t pretty and it was quiet but I’ll take as many wins as I can get, especially over a Western Conference team. The NBA Western Conference might as well be a different sport, so this was a confidence booster going into the return of Rajon Rondo later this week.

Looking Ahead: The Celtics next face Rajon Rondo and the Dallas Mavericks on Friday January 2nd at the Garden. The video package is going to be Pierce/Garnett level emotional.

Follow Padraic O'Connor on Twitter @padraic_oconnor

Photo Source: ESPN

Source: NESN