After a rough beginning to the season, many judged the Boston Celtics as an underachieving team. Now they’re finally back on track as one of the hottest teams in basketball.
In his first season with the Celtics, Ime Udoka deserves a lot of credit for the team’s turnaround. After being ranked as the ninth seed in the eastern conference at the end of December, he has led Boston to an amazing turnaround, now sitting up near the top of the east. The team is now first in defensive rating (105.8), opponents points against per game (103.8), opponents field goal percentage (43%) and opponent’s three-point percentage (33.8%). With the Celtics record of 23-4 in their last 27 games, Udoka has become the front-runner for coach of the year.
Since the all-star break, very few players in the league have matched how well forward Jayson Tatum is playing right now. In this month alone, he has already won player of the week twice. He is the main reason for the Celtics’ rebound. Currently, Tatum is averaging 27 points per game on 44.9% shooting from the field, 8.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists. Thanks to his stretch throughout the second half of the season, he is making a case as a potential MVP winner.
While Tatum might be having an MVP season, guard Jaylen Brown is not far behind him. Many people consider Brown and Tatum to be the best duo in the league right now, and it is easy to see why that is. This season so far, Brown has averaged 23.2 points on 46.6% from the field to go along with 6.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Boston needs Brown to keep up his production with Tatum in order to keep their streak going into the postseason.
While Tatum and Brown have had terrific seasons, guard Marcus Smart has been terrific in his own right. This season, he has 12 points per game and currently has a 104 defensive rating. He has the potential to win defensive player of the year and will be a key player if the Celtics wish to be successful in the playoffs.
Another reason the Celtics have turned around this season is thanks to their defense, primarily center Robert Williams. After injuries caused him to miss time in his first three seasons, he has shined this year now that he is healthy. Currently, he is one of the favorites to win the defensive player of the year award, and when you see his stats, it is not surprising. Currently, he has the second-most average blocks per game with 2.2 to go along with 9.6 rebounds and 9.9 points. If Boston is going to make noise this postseason, Williams will have to play a big factor.
With the season nearing the end, the Celtics hope to carry this momentum into the last stretch of games and try to rise in the standings, as they are only 0.5 games back from the Heat and 76ers for the first seed in the east. But with the east being super competitive this season, Boston will have to prove this stretch is no fluke and the team is the real deal as they try to win their 18th championship.