Earlier this season, the Celtics held 29 straight opponents under 100 points. This was the longest streak in the NBA in more than five years, and the longest shot clock era streak in franchise history.
Currently, thanks to yesterday's big win over Miami, the Celtics have held nine straight opponents under the 100-point mark, which ties them with Philly for the long active streak in the league.
So, what I'm trying to say is: These Celtics can play defense.
That shouldn't come as any big surprise, since Kevin Garnett's Celtics were always known for their defense. They were synonymous with defense. But for some reason, over the last year or so, that reputation as one of the league's preeminent defensive teams has started to fade. Perhaps that's because the Celtics haven't been as efficient offensively (we much prefer to obsess over what's wrong than appreciate what's right). Maybe it's because they haven't won a title in four years. Maybe it's because Tom Thibodeau took some of that defensive identity to Chicago. Maybe it's because we all just ran out of things to say. How many different ways can you say it?
Anyway, here's just a little reminder: The Celtics can still play D!
So far this season, they're holding opponents to 89.8 points a game, which ranks third in the NBA behind Philadelphia and Chicago. But even more interesting than that?
At their current pace, the Celtics will registered their lowest opponent points per game average since 1954.
Of course, that's a little skewed, because thanks to leftover rustiness from the lockout the league scoring average is down. For instance, in 2008, the Celtics held opponents to 90.3 points a game, but the league was averaging 99.9 points a night. This year, scoring's down to 96, so holding an opponent under 90 isn't quite what it used to be.
Still, records are records and this defense is on its way to setting themselves a nice one.