If there’s one thing the Boston Celtics have taught us in the past, it’s that we can never underestimate them. Just when their record hit 14-17 and we were throwing dirt on their graves, they’ve run off four wins in a row and are back in the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference.
What’s impressive about their four-game run is the quality of opponent. The Celtics beat the Indiana Pacers, then went on the road to beat the Atlanta Hawks and the New York Knicks. They finished the streak with a home win over the lowly Phoenix Suns.
Their win streak has been predicated on the tremendous defense that the Celtics have been known for. During their previous four-game losing streak, they were giving up an average of 104.5 points per game, including an embarrassing 118 points to the Sacramento Kings.
They’ve since tightened the screws and are allowing just 82.8 points per game. They’ve gotten back to the stingy play that allows them to cover up some of their offensive woes.
In their last 14 games, they’ve eclipsed 100 points just twice (103 and 102). That’s pretty poor in today’s NBA, especially considering the Celtics are No. 20 in pace. It’s not as if they’r running the four-corners offense there.
The bench has also been a pleasant surprise, as they accounted for 47 of the team’s 87 points on Wednesday night against the Phoenix Suns. Jeff Green scored 14 points, Jason Terry added 13 with five rebounds and five assists and Jared Sullinger scored 12 with a whopping 16 rebounds.
At the end of the day, it still boils down to Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Pierce is quietly putting up a fine season at the age of 35, averaging 19.5 points with 5.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals. He’s shooting 38.5% from the three-point line and 80.9% from the free-throw line.
Garnett is a shell of his 20, 10 and 5 days, but he’s chipping in with 14.7 points, seven rebounds and 1.1 steals. He leads the team in defensive rating (100) and is definitely the emotional leader on the court.
Rondo is an interesting case because when his head is right, he’s an animal. For the season, he averages 13.1 points, five rebounds, 11.2 assists and 1.9 steals. The problem is, he’s been suspended twice already and plays with so much negative energy that it gets him in trouble.
The Celtics are going to make the playoffs and no team will want to face them. They’ve got playoff tested veterans, a superstar point guard and a bench that keeps getting better. For those that were throwing dirt on the Celtics’ grave, grab a wheelbarrow…we need to get rid of all this dirt.
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