Lots to love about Celtics' early season run
BOSTON -- Celtics Nation loves to win.
And as you look around the NBA landscape, nobody is doing as well as the Celtics are.
They haven’t just won a few games; they’ve won 10 in a row as part of what has been a historical start to the season.
No team in NBA history has ever lost back-to-back games to start the season only to follow that up with 10 straight wins.
Ten straight wins!
Ten straight wins despite injuries to key players.
Ten straight wins despite having a roster with 10 new faces and only one returning starter from a year ago.
Ten straight wins with a 6-0 road record and an the average margin of victory being 8.2 points per game.
Say what you want about the Green Team, but there’s a whole lot to love about this crew.
And if you aren’t sure what to love, well you’re in luck.
We at NBC Sports Boston have you covered.
Here’s a list of the Top 10 Things to Love about the Celtics’ 10-game Win Streak:
10. THEY DIDN'T DRAFT THIS GUY
It’s still early, but it’s highly unlikely the Celtics will have any sense of buyer’s remorse when they traded away the top overall pick so that Philadelphia could draft Markelle Fultz. No one questions his potential. But he hasn’t exactly set the basketball world on fire. He comes off the Sixers bench when healthy, which is not where he’s at currently. A shoulder injury has sidelined him with Sixers officials saying he’ll be re-evaluated in another 7-10 days. It’s too soon to call him a bust, but he has not been nearly as good as the player Boston traded down to draft in June.
9. THEY DID DRAFT THIS GUY
I know he’s only been around the team for a few months, but can you imagine this team without Jayson Tatum? Of all the shrewd deals Danny Ainge has pulled off, flipping the No. 1 overall pick in last June’s NBA draft to go down two spots to draft Tatum AND get a future draft pick, was genius. The player-for-player part of the deal leans heavily in Boston’s favor. Throw in the fact that the Celtics may wind up with a top-5 pick too, speaks to how the Boston got an absolute steal-and-a-half by getting Tatum and a pick.
8. BAYNES IS 'ALL OF AUSTRALIA'
Tommy Heinsohn’s “All of Australia” line about Aron Baynes, in terms of his hoops skills, could not be any more on point. He has been one of the big surprises for the Celtics, providing some much-needed defense, toughness and physicality to the team. The big fella also scores points, both on the floor (he had 21 points in Boston’s win over the Lakers on Wednesday) and in the eyes of the two-time Hall of Famer, Tommy Heinsohn.
7. THE CELTICS KNOW WHAT BROWN CAN DO FOR THEM
As a rookie, Jaylen Brown worked his way on to the floor because of his sick athleticism. This season, he’s even more athletic and experienced, with the latter playing a major factor in him working his way from a solid rotation player to a starter this season.
6. HAYWARD IS ALREADY BACK ON THE COURT . . . SORT OF
Shooting open shots from the free throw line. Halfcourt shots that hit nothing but the bottom of the net. Gordon Hayward is back on the court – sort of – this week. Hayward, still considered out for the rest of this season, was on the Celtics’ practice court in a chair shooting contest with NBC Sports Boston basketball analyst Brian Scalabrine. In case you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil the ending for you.
5. DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS . . . AND 10 STRAIGHT GAMES
Of all the amazing revelations we’ve seen with this Boston Celtics team, few have been as surprising as the way Boston’s defense has performed. Losing Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder to Detroit and Cleveland, respectively, Boston’s defense was expected to take a major dip. Instead, they’ve continued to just win, win, win no matter what and are still the league’s top-rated defense in several categories.
4. THIS HAPPENED
Whatever the motivation for posting a clenched fist of the children’s cartoon character Arthur over the word “Mood,” LeBron James was in the news for something other than the Cavs underachieving at this early stage of the season. Maybe James took a nap, woke up and realized the Cavs’ losing record wasn’t a bad dream but real … very real. Or was there a connection with Kyrie Irving leading Boston to its ninth straight win, something that happened moments before James’ tweeted about Arthur. Known for dropping a cryptic message from time to time, James offered little insight into the tweet other than to say that he liked Arthur. “That’s OK, right?” James told reporters.
3. NOTHING AVERAGE ABOUT AL
There are some who have referred to Al Horford as average, but there is nothing average about what he has done this season thus far for the Celtics. While he is currently in the league’s concussion protocol program, that doesn’t diminish the impact he has made on this team this season. Horford has been particularly impressive from 3-point range, shooting a career-best 46.7 percent on 3’s. That, along with his defense and improved rebounding from a year ago, has put Horford in elite company as one of the Eastern Conference’s top big men.
2. THESE TWO (STEVENS AND AINGE)
Coming into this season, one of the underlying narratives about this team was whether Brad Stevens could handle the elite talent that Danny Ainge was gathering this offseason. Well, I think after 12 games the answer to that is pretty obvious. Credit Ainge, the Celtic’s president of basketball operations, for not only finding good talent but also the right talent that fits in ideally with Stevens’ system. And certainly Stevens, the runaway front-runner for coach of the year, has proven himself to not only be able to manage great players, but evolve on the fly when those players are unexpectedly out for various reasons. What he has done with so many key guys out at different times, while relying so heavily on first and second-year players, the fact that Boston despite all that has the best record in the NBA, is pretty amazing.
1. KYRIE, KYRIE, KYRIE
After six seasons in Cleveland when he was essentially a scorer who occasionally dished out an assist here and there, Kyrie Irving has shown us that there are so many more layers to his game that we knew nothing about. You won’t confuse him with being an elite defender, but there’s no question he’s a better-equipped defender than his reputation warranted. His scoring is down, but it’s clear when you watch him play that on most nights, he’s more concerned with getting his teammates good looks because as we’ve seen time and time again, he’s more than capable of creating his own shot off the dribble and maybe most important to Celtics fans, capable of finishing. Playing a more balanced, all-around game coupled with Boston continuing to rack up the victories could potentially lead to Irving finding a spot among the top-5 players for the league MVP award which would be the ultimate individual indicator as to how much his game has grown.