If you tell me you weren’t worried about the Celtics after the first few weeks at least a little bit, then you’re lying. I tried to remain as optimistic as I could be, but things got iffy. Things were especially rough when the C’s lost to the Jazz, Hornets and Knicks in 3 consecutive games. Since that putrid stretch, the Celtics are 7-1 and have the NBA’s top offense along with the third best defense. This team has a plus/minus of +156 in that span. The next best team in this span is the Pacers with +75. There’s more than enough evidence to indicate this Boston Celtics team is back. The real question is what happened and if it’s sustainable.
Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown to the Bench
Brad Stevens made a bold move of putting Gordon Hayward on the bench even though he’s making the most money on the roster. He wasn’t put on the bench because he was playing poorly, but instead as a better fit. Hayward has flourished on the bench being able to be the leader of that unit with his high basketball IQ. Also, for the past 3 games Jaylen Brown has come off the bench and played tremendously. He has had in best stretch of the season in those games averaging 21 point per game with the second unit. The bench unit is mainly consisting of Hayward, Brown, Rozier, and Baynes. Those guys play really well together with the mentality of a fast-paced offense. Brown noted how this playstyle with Terry has helped him succeed. This also makes for the opposing team having no time to relax with them on the floor. These guys should stay together for as long as the success continues.
Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris Starting
The Marcus combo moved into the starting lineup replacing Hayward and Brown. The advantage to this is that Smart couldn’t care less about scoring. He’s out there making winning plays and making everybody around him play better. Kyrie has noted that Smart drives him to play with more of an edge defensively. His ability to play with the ball in his hands means Kyrie can dance around off-ball and get open shots to take. As for Morris, he has possibly been the best player on this Celtics team the entire season. It seems that he hits any shot that he takes. Last season, I would get annoyed with how many bad shots he would take. This year, he’s taking great shots and making them in. He’s getting defensive attention which only benefits the Tatums and Horfords of the world. It’s not only offense either, Morris can lock down any defender he wants to from guards all the way to bigs.
It’s worth noting that this success has come against some of the league’s worst teams. The Knicks, Bulls and Hawks aren’t teams to brag about. However, it is the playstyle that is what will keep the Celtics succeeding from here on out. The constant punch that any lineup can bring at any time will wear teams out and have them coming out on top far more than not. I mean the Celtics killed Anthony Davis and the Pelicans without Kyrie, Hayward or Horford. Davis put up over 40 and it meant nothing because the Celtics are such studs. This team barring multiple injuries will be a top 3 offense and defense for the rest of the season. Mark my words, by Christmas, the Celtics will be the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
-Brandon Black (Follow @bhblack02)
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