Earlier iterations of the Celtics have constantly discovered their identification on the defensive finish – not by way of distinctive expertise ranges, however through an iron will and “in your face” mentality. You knew that the Celtics had been going to place all the things on the road each night time and that each groups would go house battered and bruised.
In Boston’s subsequent three video games following that loss to Philadelphia, a well-known pattern seems to be taking form. In every of the Celtics’ final three wins, the staff has battled by way of adversity, got here from behind, and grinded out wins. Issues haven’t at all times been fairly, however the staff has discovered methods to get issues completed on each side of the ground.
“All the nice groups I’ve been round can come again and win. You come again in every of the final three video games and win, down within the fourth quarter in every of these three video games. That’s encouraging.” Brad Stevens defined after the Celtics’ most spectacular comeback so far, a 40-8 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters of a 105-87 thrashing of the Nuggets.
A lot of the consideration at the moment lies on these three wins, primarily because of the nature of Boston’s resolve and the way the staff rotated every of these video games. Nevertheless, casting our eye additional again, the image turns into brighter. The Celtics are 7-3 of their final ten video games, and all through these contests, Boston has flashed improved ball motion, improved physicality, and a newfound potential to get to the road constantly.
All through the final two weeks, Boston’s protection has improved to a top-5 stage with a 106.3 defensive ranking of their final ten video games. Offensively, the Celtics’ struggles from the perimeter have harm their rating, however the staff nonetheless finds itself hanging round at thirteenth, with lower than 1 level per 100 possessions maintaining them from being a top-10 offense.
Buoyed by Tristan Thompson’s return and the formation of an unlikely again courtroom pairing alongside Grant Williams, the Celtics have discovered a bodily forcefield that’s making offenses assume twice earlier than penetrating.
Presently working on a restricted pattern dimension of 64 possessions, when taking part in alongside Marcus Good, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown, the big-man duo has created a finely tuned defensive machine. Throughout these 64 possessions, the Celtics restrict their opponents to 52% true taking pictures, a projected 98.5 factors per 100 possessions, and forcing the live-ball turnovers 20% of the time.
“After we’re at our greatest, we’re pushing catches out, pressuring the ball, we’re making issues powerful for guys,” Grant Williams stated, as he highlighted a few of Boston’s higher traits.
The rest of the west coast highway journey is suffering from potential lure video games. The Celtics face the Portland Trail Blazers tomorrow who’ve misplaced 4 of 6 and will probably be taking part in their fourth recreation in six days and the Los Angeles Lakers who will probably be with out Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
“Every recreation is its personal entity. It doesn’t matter what you probably did within the final recreation when you received or misplaced,” Brad Stevens detailed when requested in regards to the Celtics’ momentum as they attempt to climb up the Japanese Convention standings.
Common season basketball is about discovering a rhythm, growing staff chemistry, however tangibly, it’s in regards to the standings – and the playoff seeding that comes with a high-placed end. Presently, the Celtics are tied for sixth with the injury-riddled Charlotte Hornets and solely half a recreation again from the fifth spot presently occupied by the Miami Heat.
Third place within the standings might be a step too far for the Celtics, because the Milwaukee bucks maintain that place by a commanding five-game lead, which means the Celtics will probably be taking pictures for fourth – and it’s an attainable purpose. Atlanta is just a recreation forward of the Celtics, with the center of the convention separated by simply three video games (fifth – tenth).
Of their remaining eighteen video games of the common season, Boston will face east coast competitors ten occasions, with most of these video games coming in opposition to groups striving for a play-in spot. Of these ten video games, the Celtics will solely face extremely ranked convention competitors twice – the Brooklyn Nets on April twenty third and a doubleheader in opposition to the Miami Warmth in early Could.
There will probably be a few banana skins alongside the way in which, video games in opposition to the Phoenix Suns, and just lately strengthened Chicago Bulls ought to preserve the Celtics on their toes. Finally, Boston has begun to show a nook and might see the end line of the undisputedly most weird season in league historical past, and now they should flip their jog right into a dash to complete the season robust and carry that momentum into the playoffs.
“I like the place we’re heading. However it’s on guys like me, Jaylen, Jayson, and Good. We’ve bought to carry one another accountable,” Kemba Walker responded when requested how the Celtics can proceed bettering for the ultimate stretch of the common season.
Fortunately, Boston is discovering some consistency, an identification, and a few well being (fingers crossed). With Evan Fournier nonetheless resulting from return to staff duties from well being & security protocols, the staff is completely positioned to place their struggles of the previous couple of months firmly within the rearview.