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Mitch's Sports Report: Westbrook Passes Wilt; Celtics At Crossroads; Spring Is Here!

Russell Westbrook has made history, and lest you think his new NBA record for consecutive games with a triple double isn't much of a big deal, consider that the player he passed to set the new mark is one of the greatest who ever took the court.

Westbrook ended his night against the Portland Trail Blazers with 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists, leading his Oklahoma City Thunder to a 120-111 win.

It was the tenth game in a row Westbrook finished with double figures in three different categories and that moves him past Wilt Chamberlain for the all-time record, Wilt the Stilt having recorded nine straight triple doubles back in 1968.

Westbrook has 23 triple doubles in total on the season, which leads the league, and he helped a teammate record one of his own last night, when he nailed a three-pointer on an assist from Paul George, giving George a triple double of his own with a 47 point night to go with 12 rebounds and ten assists. The Thunder are very much a dynamic duo team, their fortunes resting almost wholly on the Westbrook-George combination, but when they are putting up those kind of numbers, it can be enough to beat any team in the league.

Westbrook is still just 30 year old, and getting into the NBA record books is a remarkable achievement on its own, but eclipsing a player like Chamberlain who dominated the game statistically like no player before or since, is even more impressive.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Boston Celtics, and they have a game tonight that really could be a make or break for the rest of their season. This is partly because of the opponent they're playing, and the opponent that has become themselves.

The Celtics have a date in Philadelphia to take on the 76ers, a team that sits just one game above them for fourth place in the eastern conference, and a team that recently got a whole lot better by acquiring Tobias Harris at the trade deadline.

The Sixers now boast a starting five as good as any in the east, but the other challenge facing Boston tonight is overcoming their own internal strife.

In the Celtics previous game against the LA Clippers, they built up a seemingly insurmountable 28-point lead, and then saw their star player Kyrie Irving leave the game with a knee injury.

The Celtics collapsed like a Jenga tower afterwards, blowing that 28-point lead and losing the game, at home no less, revealing a team at a loss and a crossroads.

After the game forward Marcus Morris ripped into his teammates, saying he sees less a team than a bunch of individuals, and this is just an extension of the weird vibe that's hung over the Celtics all year, in a season that was supposed to see them reach the next level with a healthy Irving and Gordon Hayward running the show.  

Instead, Irving has been in and out of the line-up with injuries, Hayward has struggled to regain his form after missing a year to a broken ankle, and the core of young players seems unsure what their roles are. It's the first real test of adversity as well for coach Brad Stevens, who hasn't been criticized much in his time with Boston, but is hearing some grumbling now.

That's why tonight's game against Philly feels so critical. If they can win on the road against a vastly improved team that was already very good to begin with, they can turn the narrative around and come together as a team charging towards the post-season.

A loss, or a worse a blow-out defeat, may encase that Morris quote about a bunch of individuals in stone, and it could read as an epitaph for the team's seasonal gravestone.

On a happier note, spring has finally arrived. Forget the snowstorm we're getting later today. Pitchers and catchers are reporting today in warmer climes to begin spring training for the 2019 Major League Baseball season, and in my book, that means spring has sprung.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
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