Five takeaways: C's roll out of Dallas on 10-1 run
Five takeaways: Make it 10 of 11 as Celtics roll out of Dallas
BOSTON – It’s Valentine’s Day and for Celtics Nation, there’s a lot to love for this team right now.
Coming off Monday’s 111-98 win at Dallas, the Celtics have won three straight and 10 of 11.
Isaiah Thomas will be playing in his second consecutive All-Star game on Sunday for an Eastern Conference team that will be coached by Brad Stevens and his staff.
The Celtics would love to add another high-impact performer to pair with Thomas and four-time All-Star Al Horford by the Feb. 23 trade deadline and appear to have the assets to get a deal done.
And then there’s the upcoming NBA draft in which Boston will get the right to swap picks with the Brooklyn Nets, a pick that’s looking likely to be a top two selection as the Nets continue to decend into the worst team in the NBA this season to the joy of many – the Celtics surely at the front of that line.
That said, Boston’s success has also been fueled by their “in-the-moment” mindset which doesn’t allow them to look too far ahead or dwell on what has happened in the past.
So, here are five takeaways that have helped the Celtics skyrocket up the Eastern Conference standings:
For all the areas that Boston has excelled at recently, few have been more important than their improved rebounding. The Celtics still rank among the NBA’s worst, but that has more to do with their struggles of the past. Because the Celtics, winners in 10 of their past 11, have been solid on the boards in that span by ranking 12th in the league with a 50.6 rebounding percentage. In that span, the Celtics have particularly impressive on the defensive boards, ranking sixth in defensive rebounding percentage (.799) which has been a major key to their improved defense of late.
We have seen Gerald Green provide instant offense the last couple of games, and James Young come seemingly out of nowhere and play as though he has been a rotation player all season. But their recent success doesn’t do justice to a second unit that has been playing well at both ends of the floor recently. One of the reasons Boston has become a better defensive rebounding team is due to the play of Kelly Olynyk.
STEVENS’ PLAY CALLING
While Brad Stevens has a well-deserved reputation for his ATO (After-Time-Out) calls, his in-game plays are pretty damn good, too. As we get deeper into this season, he’s putting his players in more positions to be effective at both ends of the floor. For example, Marcus Smart is not only posting up smaller players more often, but he’s also passing out of the post as well. And while Kelly Olynyk is a stretch big, the Celtics are finding him cutting to the basket more often, in addition to him putting the ball on the floor and driving. Go down the line and you’ll see just about every player, even seldom-used James Young, are getting on the floor and making positive contributions helping the Celtics win games.
PERIMETER/PAINT SCORING BALANCE
As much as the Celtics love to let it fly from 3-point range, they also understand that they have to find ways to score closer to the rim as well. During their recent run, they’re doing a better job of achieving a better balance between the two. For the season, Boston ranks 4th in 3-pointers made with 12.2 per game. In the last 11 games, they rank fourth in 3-pointers made with 13.1 per game. Points in the paint are up to 44.7 which ranks 15th in the league during that span. For the season, the Celtics are 18th in PITP with a 42.1 points per game average.
NEXT MAN UP
During Boston’s recent run of success, they have done it with at least one preferred starter unable to play due to injury, illness or, as in the case of Jae Crowder recently, a health-related family matter. They have not allowed not having a key player available get in the way of winning. And that is going to be pay huge dividends come playoff time. Because guys on the bench are only an ankle sprain away from playing a major role. The fact that so many of them are getting a chance to play meaningful roles at times and with that meaningful minutes, is going to do nothing but help the Celtics as they prepare for what they hope will be a long and successful postseason journey.