The Boston Celtics are the hottest team in basketball right now.
In their first game since the All-Star break, the Celtics led wire to wire against the Nets, capturing their 17th win in their last 22 games with a 129-106 rout.
Thursday night’s demolition in Brooklyn was also Boston’s sixth wire-to-wire win in their last 14 encounters. Picking up right where they left off, they stuck to the same principles that helped turn their season around in the first place. On display were their stifling defense, a willingness to push the pace, and a heavy emphasis on ball movement.
Just a few weeks ago, the writing was seemingly on the wall, as their season was slipping away. Yet, they’ve now emerged from the All-Star break as a potential dark horse contender for this year’s title. Just how exactly did they turn their season around?
*All stats as of February 26, 2022
Boston Celtics: From dark days to dark horse – Hitting rock bottom
By late January, the Boston Celtics had become the depiction of a truly middling franchise.
Sleepwalking through the motions, they held a 25-25 record as time ticked past the season’s halfway point – seeming destined for yet another year from hell. A second straight season of failing to maximize the potential of their two budding stars.
Trade discourse surrounding the duo of Tatum and Brown also reached an all-time high, as Celtics fans began to scratch their heads and wonder just how they got here.
After three Eastern Conference Finals births in four years, the future seemed awfully bright in Boston just sixteen months earlier. Yet, by January 2022 they were dawdling in mediocrity.
The Celtics were being routinely plagued by the same issues. Their defense was relatively good, but their offense got stagnant for lengthy periods – and their late-game execution was amongst the worst in the league.
Even the most ardent of Boston homers seemed to accept their team’s new run-of-the-mill reality. In late January, The Ringer’s Bill Simmons tweeted this below:
You can’t get any more middle of the road than that.