This question has floated around NBA discussions for the past 3 weeks. Since the trade deadline, the Celtics own the best record in the eastern conference at 9-3. Some of those wins coming from bottom feeder teams like Minnesota and Houston, but some wins were against some red hot teams like Milwaukee and more recently, snapping Denver’s win streak.
What’s most impressive about the recent run Boston has been on is the changes they’ve made in their game. Earlier in the season the Celtics would have poor shooting games. They would just keep shooting and hope to make some, but lately that hasn’t been the case. Take the game in Denver for example, Boston was shooting poorly for the majority of the game, but the difference maker was the change they made, the one simple change: they attacked the basket! Even more than that, they attacked with a purpose to score. Throughout the season the celtics have been running plays where they drive weak and make a simple kick out pass, never really scoring at the rim.
Another thing that has helped Boston on their win streak has been their improved passing. When the celtics beat the Rockets on April 2nd, some people took the game with a grain of salt. Then there were some who saw the game as what it was: a change. In that game, the Celtics made an effort to swing the ball and leave their ways of standing around and dribbling in the past. Since that game the Celtics have ranked top 8 in assists per game and assist percentage.
Now, part of the problem was Marcus Smart. Marcus has always been a talented defensive player with incredible instincts, but sometimes, his offensive instincts are lacking. There have been times where he gets a bit trigger happy. Sometimes that leads to him making 11 threes in a game to hold the Celtics single game record, but for most of the time it leads to bad missed shots that are basically turnovers. Lately, Smart has played smart.
He is passing up good looks for great ones. There were times where Marcus was taking 15 or even 20 shots a game and not making a good portion of them. Lately while the Celtics have been on their win streak, Smart is only attempting 7 or 8 shots a game and racking in 5 or 6 assists.
Long story short, The Boston Celtics are winning games in a good way. The entire NBA should be scared when they see the Celtics on their schedule in the next few weeks, especially since they have been winning these games without their main piece acquired from the trade deadline, 20ppg scorer, Evan Fournier.
Photo Credit: Benny Sieu