I was wrong about the Celtics.
Back in January, I wrote that this team was hard to watch, and deservedly so. It looked like a Celtics team that was not playing up to their potential, the offense was stagnant, and the defense was terrible at times. Many Celtics fans thought Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown should be traded because they can’t coexist and they don’t like playing with each other. Then all of a sudden, as if they were listening to all of the criticism, the Celtics became a legit Eastern Conference contender.
Now I don’t want to be that guy on Twitter who got a “2022 NBA CHAMPIONS” tattoo, but the Celtics have the best record in the NBA since the new year. The defense has not only been good but suffocating, with the best defensive rating in the league. They switch everything on the perimeter and clog almost every passing lane. If you do get in the paint, Robert Williams is going to come off the weak side and send your shot into the 7th row.
The offense has been just as stellar, as Tatum is starting a have a real MVP case. He figured out how dominating he can be if he can get to the free-throw line consistently. Tatum’s 429 free throws taken is 7th in the league and adds just another dimension to an increasingly unguardable superstar. Brown has been getting his share of buckets as well, as his 23 points per game have him sitting in the top 20. Together, the Jays play seamlessly off each other and have developed into a top 5 duo in the NBA. Robert Williams is under the best contract in the NBA, as his shot-altering and finishing ability has led him to blossom into a legitimate third star. Marcus Smart remains the heart and soul of this team and has come back from injury as a rejuvenated player. Payton Pritchard and Grant Williams have been marksmen off the bench and Derrick White is a Swiss Army knife player, doing whatever is needed of him on any given night.
The Celtics aren’t just winning games either, they’re dominating. In the past 27 games, Boston is 23-4 and has an average score differential of 15.6. In that span, the Celtics beat Philadelphia by 48, Brooklyn by 35, and Miami by 30. These are all teams that will be fighting to come out of the East come playoff time. In their last game, they beat the Jazz by 28 while holding them to under 100 points, the 17th time they’ve done that in 2022 alone.
What was at first an extended hot streak for Boston has turned into a run that has them peaking at exactly the right time. This isn’t to say that the Celtics are the favorite to come out of the East, but they have inserted themselves into the conversation by kicking down the door. The Celtic can lock you down for 24 seconds and then burn you in transition. They have two young stars who can score from anywhere on the court, and another who can alter shots with just his presence. If they can continue the trajectory they’re currently on, the sky is the limit for the Boston Celtics.