The Boston Celtics are undefeated this year in case you haven’t heard. We’ll in 2019 anyways. After a up and down start to the season these Celtics are unquestionably playing some of their best basketball of the season, highlighted with a 135-108 dominating performance last night over a solid Indiana Pacers team.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 10, 2019
The Celtics swept their 4 game home stand and won each game by an average margin of 20.5 pts. The offense that has looked completely stagnant at times this season seems to be a forgotten after thought, with the ball moving around the floor in a fashion that would make even Larry Bird smile.
They are averaging an absurd 34.5 assists per game over this 4 game streak. Far from the offense that was filled with iso-midrange pull ups that this team was full of to start the year.
Last night was the epitome of what this Celtics team can do to you when they are at their best, with 7 players in double figures and a ridiculous 73 points off the bench. When they play in such a fashion it is almost impossible to beat them. Add in the fact that they are playing terrific defense which is typical of a Brad Stevens coached team, and the rest of the NBA has to be thinking, “oh shit, these guys figured it out”
Did anyone really think that this team wouldn’t pull it together and start to perform like they were capable of? The answer to that is yes. A lot of people thought this team might have been overrated and could never perform to their lofty expectations.
But here’s the thing about talented teams over the course of an NBA season, the talent almost always wins out. It’s why the Golden State Warriors are in the NBA finals every year. It’s why LeBron James led a mediocre Cavs team to the finals on a yearly basis.
The cream always rises to the top and the Celtics are certainly rising. Their young talent in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown seem to be overcoming some of their own early season woes and looked brilliant last night going for 20 and 22 pts respectively.
Funny thing about those numbers, it’s each of their respective ages as well, which just goes to show you how crazy the criticism each of them has received at certain points this season. Tatum for Christ sakes could be throwing lobs to Zion Williamson right now as just a Junior at Duke. Brown could be a rookie but instead he’s already got 2 seasons under his belt. Be patient.
It’s starting to become reminiscent of last years team when those two steadily improved over the course of the season and were at their best come playoff time. Another player who looks to be on that same track is Gordon Hayward. He has slowly but steadily improved over the past month and it’s noticeable how he is starting to look more comfortable on the court. His three ball is starting to drop consistently for the first time this season and he is starting to become more and more of a threat as a playmaker, always looking to make the right pass. You could argue this team could make the NBA Finals even without him, if he continues to improve and play well he could be the ultimate X-factor come playoff time.
Kyrie Irving gonna do Kyrie Irving shit, basically ball the F out on a constant basis. But one thing that was glaring about this team with Kyrie missing time recently and the Celtics being OK without him, and in comparison when Al Horford was out and the team struggled. Big Al is the straw that stirs the drink with this team and it’s almost a guarantee that when he plays well, the Celtics win.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 10, 2019
Last night he had 8 assists in just 18 mins and a team high +/- rating of +19. When the ball moves through him on the offensive end it opens up this team to play at their best. It’s so easy to forget how much this team really needs him until he’s not there for a period of time. I would expect to see Brad Stevens limit Al’s minutes this entire season as to keep him fresh for the playoffs. He also knows this team isn’t going anywhere without Horford.
One final thing I will leave you with in terms of this Celtics team is to think about their depth. They can basically go 10-11 deep at any given time and their second team would be better than any starting lineup you will see teams like the Bulls, Knicks or Cavs put on the floor.
While that abundance of talent and how they would all gel together has maybe been part of the problem for the Celtics in the early going of this season, it will only benefit them down the stretch. 82 games is a very long season. Teams that rely on 7-8 guys are bound to wear them out, never mind a long playoff run on top of that.
My point is, that this Celtics team should theoretically have the freshest legs come the daunting marathon that is the NBA Playoffs. While other teams are trimming their rotations even more, the Celtics will basically have 2 starting lineups to play with. They are going to be running teams all over the court, and just when you think their starters are getting tired, Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown will come off the bench and run you some more.
It’s been the overlooked factor of this team the entire season, and part of the reason I have never doubted that this team will be at their best come playoff time. They will simply be deeper than any team they might face in the playoffs. Sure players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid and Kawhi Leonard are great, but how fresh will they and their teams be come the 90th or 100th game of their season? For two injury prone guys like Leonard and Embiid and a guy that carries his team on a nightly basis in Antetokounmpo, it’s a valid question.
One thing I know is that the Celtics seem to have hit their groove, and their fans that have told themselves to be patient and let this team overcome their growing pains are finally being rewarded. Time will tell if that reward will bring Banner #18 to the rafters in Boston.
P.S. TIMELORD IS GOD
Robert Williams avenging his technical foul: pic.twitter.com/HZcusPifVM
— Chris Grenham (@chrisgrenham) January 10, 2019