The NBA’s Eastern Conference goes through Cleveland. Everyone knows that. But what about the teams that will look to dethrone the Cavaliers as Eastern Conference champs? Some team make quite a compelling case to make it interesting at the very least in a series with LeBron James and company. One of those teams is the Boston Celtics.
Raise your hand if you had the Celtics as the third best team in the Eastern Conference with 20 games to play. Chances are your hands are not in the air as nobody really thought this team would be a top-three team heading into this season, but that is just a testament to what this team has been able to do thus far.
Boston currently sits at 37-25 and trail the second place Toronto Raptors by 4.5 games and Cleveland by 6.5 games and are winners of four straight overall and 12 straight at home in the TD Garden. Their current four-game winning streak has all been at home and they will close out the five-game home stand against the lowly New York Knicks on Friday night before traveling to Cleveland on Sunday.
The Celtics finished the month of February 9-3, earning head coach Brad Stevens the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month award.
Boston is led by All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas who leads the team in points with 21.6 and assists at 6.7, which ranks him 9th in the NBA. The former Washington Huskie is making the Phoenix Suns look foolish for dealing him away and is making the most of being the leader of this Celtics team. He is coming off a 30-point outing in a 116-93 victory over Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers.
Thomas was recently asked why nobody is taking the Celtics seriously or give them enough respect, he smirked and replied with “I guess we’ve got no superstar. No foundation player, right?”
Playing with a chip on his shoulder all season long as motivated him to the point where he is the team leader.
Including Thomas, the Celts have six players averaging at least 10 points per game and another 9.8 per game from forward Evan Turner. Guard Avery Bradley averages 15.3 points per game on 45% shooting from the field and 37.2% from three. Forward Jae Crowder is averaging 14.5 points and 5.2 rebound per game while shooting 45.6% from the floor and 35.5% from beyond the arc. Forward Jared Sullinger, center Kelly Olynyk and guard Marcus Smart all average 10 point per game. The six double-digit scores have helped lead Boston to 106.1 points per game, ranking 4th in the NBA.
This team has made great strides from a couple of seasons ago. In the 2013-14 season, Boston finished 25-57. Last season they improved their record to 40-42, good enough for second in the Atlantic Division and 7th in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately for Boston, they ran into King James and the Cavs and got swept out of the first round.
This year seems different than the past few for Boston, mainly due to them actually winning and being in contention. The Celtics have the ability to make a postseason run, something nobody was envisioning at the start of this season and that’s fine by them. They love and are motivated by the us-against-the-world mentality. This team could very well make the Eastern Conference Finals, where they will try and “shock the world” yet again this season.