Celtics Riding Defense Heavy Nine Game Winning Streak
Last time I came to you in regards to the Boston Celtics, they were coming off their first win of the season in Philadelphia. The first three games of this new season were definitely emotional, and surprising to many, but since then this Celtics team has emerged as the best team in the Eastern Conference. If you include that game in Philly, the Celtics have won nine games in a row, with six of those wins coming on the road. With Gordon Hayward going down in the opener, I think it is safe to say no one expected them to be here. But thanks to Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, and so many more, here they are, 4.5 games ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers. There is still room for improvement, especially on the offensive side of the ball, but this start is impressive.
It all starts at the top really, with Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens. I do not know what Ainge saw in Jayson Tatum, because I was sold on Markelle Fultz, but wow, what a difference the rookie from Duke has made on this team. Meanwhile, Fultz, a natural righty, is beginning to shoot with his left hand at practice with no concise reason as to why.
It is early, that much is true, and Tatum will certainly hit a wall at some point in the next few months, but he’s looking like a legit Rookie of the Year contender right now, so I have to tip my hat to Ainge for seeing that in him.
Then you have the acquisition of Kyrie Irving. Sure, he isn’t shooting the lights out or anything, but his impact on and off the floor is easy to see. He’s even become more involved on defense than he was in Cleveland.
I could single out pretty much every player on this team for their contributions, but that would turn this into an even longer read. Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Aron Baynes, Terry Rozier, and Marcus Smart have all had some great moments already, and they deserve some recognition for it.
With Brad Stevens, the Celtics have one of the brightest head coaches in the league, and that’s been said for awhile now, but he has not faltered due to all the attention the Celtics are getting. You could make the case that this season would be Stevens toughest challenge. Only four players returning from last year’s team and eight guys who weren’t even in the NBA last season. With this team, minus their second best scoring option, Stevens has out-coached the likes of Gregg Popovich and Erik Spoelstra among others on the way to this 9-2 start. Without a doubt, he is Coach of the Year if he keeps this up. Not only that, but working with a coach like Brad Stevens is definitely appealing to potential free agents or trade targets. It’s been said before but Brad Stevens is the Celtics #1 asset.
Yeah, I’ve given the Celtics a lot of praise so far, but let’s transition to some criticism. The offense is not there yet. With a brand new point guard in Kyrie Irving, this is expected. As of this moment, the Celtics offense ranks 22nd in the NBA in terms of just points per game. They rank 20th in Field Goal Percentage, 11th in 3-Point Field Goal Percentage, and 20th in Free Throw Percentage. Not great, but I expect this to improve. Kyrie is getting more comfortable obviously, and they should manage to make a higher percentage of their free throws overtime too. Defensively, I have nothing to complain about. Their rebounding has been off the charts to compared to last season and I’m sure more Marcus Morris will help with that as well.
Well, that should just about do it. The Lakers come into the Garden tonight. Led by Lonzo Ball, I can’t wait to see him and Kyrie matchup. It looks like Lonzo isn’t too aggressive with the ball in his hands, so I’m hoping Jayson Tatum can put on a show against the guy drafted a pick before him. If I don’t do it sooner, expect another Celtics write up from me in another three weeks or so.
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