BOSTON – The Boston Celtics have been a different team lately, looking more and playing more like the squad so many pegged to be one of the best in the Eastern Conference.
Like so many of these kind of improvements, there was a turning point.
For this group, that was the practice following a 118-93 blowout loss at Washington.
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The Celtics had a players-only meeting, an opportunity to clear the air and speak freely with one goal – to start playing Celtics basketball.
Since then, they have won three of their last four games which includes Wednesday’s 90-83 victory over Dallas.
Marcus Smart was among the Celtics players who felt the meeting was pivotal to this team at least starting to play at a higher compete level which has helped fuel their recent success.
“We had to look ourselves in the mirror and come to the conclusion that it is us and we’re the ones playing and that we have to get it together,” Smart said.
After ranking near the bottom of several defensive categories prior to the meeting, the Celtics have looked more like the squad that many projected – including players like Avery Bradley – would be among the top teams defensively in the NBA this season in their last four games.
In that span, the Celtics defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) is 93.3 which ranks second in the NBA. For the season, Boston’s defensive rating is 105.3 which ranks 24th in the league.
Their opponent’s effective Field Goal Percentage has been pretty good all season, ranking 10th in the league at .490. But they have been even better in the last four games with an eFG% of .442 which is the NBA’s second-best mark.
And rebounding, always an adventure with the Celtics, has been significantly better in the last four games where their rebounding percentage (.530) is the eighth-best mark in that span compared to their season rebounding percentage (.483) which ranks 24th in the NBA.
The numbers are better in other categories as well, proof that the Celtics (6-5) are indeed trending in the right direction.
And while there are certainly a number of factors that have contributed to their improved play, you can count the players-only meeting being one of them.