BOSTON – The Boston Celtics come into tonight’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers as one of the NBA’s hottest teams, winning eight of their last 10 games.
To play that well over the course of 10 games isn’t something limited to them excelling at one or two phases of the game.
Here’s a look at five key areas that have fueled Boston’s recent run of success, one that they hope to keep going for at least one more night against a Sixers (9-24) looking to match its win total from a year ago in addition to winning a third straight game for the first time since 2014.
TAKE AWAY THE SHORT GAME
Celtics coach Brad Stevens has praised his teams defense recently after they got off to a horrendous start this season which had them ranked among the NBA’s worst in several categories.
During their recent run of success, the Celtics have been especially tough on teams taking shots from 10-14 feet away. Defending those shots often comes down to Boston’s bigs either limiting their men or providing the kind of help-side defense required to limit dribble penetration leading to points scored.
In the last 10 games, teams have shot just 30.4 percent against Boston in the 10-14 foot range which ranks fourth in the NBA in that span.
PUTTING IT ON THE LINE
The Celtics have been among the league’s top teams when it comes to getting to the free throw line in the fourth quarter. But lately they’re making quite a living at the line throughout the entire game. In the last 10 games they average 20.5 made free throws which ranks fifth in the NBA. And a big part of that is pretty – they’re making them.
Boston is shooting 84 percent from the line in the last 10 games which ranks second in the NBA.
DRIVE AND FINISH
The Celtics have ranked among the NBA’s leaders in drives per game most of this season. But during the last 10 games, many of those drives have led to an increase in shots at the rim and more important, baskets made.
In the last 10 games, the Celtics have averaged 7.9 field goals made on drives to the basket which ranks sixth in the NBA in that span. In addition, Boston is shooting 55.6 percent on drives while scoring 21.9 points in the last 10 games which ranks 2nd and 4th in the NBA, respectively.
A big part of successful runs involves sacrifice, something Boston’s defenders tend to do a lot when it comes to their body. Boston has been among the league leaders in charges drawn all season, and that trend has remained alive and well during their recent run of success.
The Celtics have averaged 1.0 charges drawn in the last 10 games which is the second-best mark in the league during that span.
Boston doesn’t win like it has of late if players aren’t finding ways to out-hustle opponents with some regularity. That has been one of the team’s strengths of late which has led to victories in eight of their last 10 games.
No statistic speaks to a team’s ability to hustle on the floor, like recovering loose balls which by the way the Celtics have been good – really good – at lately.
In the last 10 games, they are averaging 6.8 loose balls recovered which is tops in the NBA during that span of time.