With the All-Star break about a week out, it’s about as good a time as any to start giving some thought to what’s around the corner for the Boston Celtics.
They come into tonight’s game against the struggling Sacramento Kings (20-32) with an impressive 33-18 record which trails only Cleveland by 2.5 games in the East.
As well as they’ve played thus far this season, the potential to be even better going forward is clear.
Including tonight’s game against the Kings, Boston has 36-16 record (.692 winning percentage) against the remainder of its schedule.
By no means does this mean the Celtics will cakewalk their way into the playoffs.
More than anything else it speaks to how despite all the injuries that the Celtics have had (Al Horford and Avery Bradley who is still out, are the two that stand out) and various other setbacks, they have positioned themselves to finish with a top-3 record in the East with a stretch of foes that they have already had success against this season.
Of the teams Boston has already played more than once who remain on the schedule, only three – Toronto (2-1), Cleveland (2-0) and Washington (2-1) – have a winning record against the Celtics this season.
Along with Boston, those three teams comprise the top four teams in the Eastern Conference record-wise with the Cavs No. 1, followed by Boston, Toronto (32-21) and Washington (30-21).
But veterans such as Boston's Amir Johnson aren’t giving any thought to what’s around the corner.
Staying in the moment, he says, is what the Celtics have to do to continue on the path of success they have enjoyed thus far this season.
“You hear coaches and players say ‘take it one game at a time’ all the time,” Johnson told CSNNE.com recently. “But it’s true. That’s what we’ve been doing to be where we’re at, and that’s what we’re going to have to do going forward.”
FIVE STATS TO TRACK
Boston’s Fab 4
Boston’s top-4 players (Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Al Horford) are 16-5 when they play together this season. When one of them doesn’t play, the Celtics are 12-8. When two or more are missing in action, Boston’s record drops to 5-5.
Pourin’ on the points
The Celtics have scored at least 103 points in each of their last 25 games which is the longest streak in the NBA since Brad Stevens took over prior to the 2013-2014 season.
In the last seven games, Marcus Smart has shot 45.8 percent from 3-point range.
Line ‘em up
Boston is having an impressive season from the free throw line; like historically impressive. They are currently leading the NBA by shooting 81.8 percent from the free throw line this season. If they maintain that average, it would be the 10th-best free throw percentage in NBA history.
Jae Crowder comes into tonight’s game scoring at least 11 points in 13 consecutive games, a first for the fifth-year veteran.