Just as the media were getting ready to write off Boston, they pull off one of the upsets of the NBA season so far. Whilst it hasn’t been smooth sailing in 2019, Boston still have a very talented squad capable of beating anyone. This article will take a look at 5 reasons why punters should still have faith in this Celtics side.
Galvanizing Road Win
The Celtics 128-95 road win in Golden State last night was an absolute massacre. Whilst the Warriors have struggled of late and were without All-Star Klay Thompson, this was still their largest home defeat in the Steve Kerr era.
The win encapsulated just how dangerous this Boston team can be when everything comes together. Their elite starting five got out to a comfortable lead that was only extended by bench playmakers in Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown.
Just having fun ¯_(ツ)_/¯ pic.twitter.com/d4EiJrF56d
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 6, 2019
This type of win should only serve to galvanize a fractured locker room, reminding them that they are indeed title contenders. Punters also took note of the Celtics dominance, bringing them in from $21 to $17 in the NBA Title market.
Strong Net Rating
Whilst it hasn’t translated to as many wins as their rivals, the Celtics actually have the 2nd best net rating in the Eastern Conference. They outscore their opponents by 5.7 points per game on average, just .1 points behind the defending NBA champion Warriors.
2018-19 Celtics – Net Rating NBA Rank by Quarter
1st – 1st
2nd – 24th
3rd – 14th
4th – 1st
OT – 1st https://t.co/oMct12Fhgz
— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) March 6, 2019
This is actually a considerable improvement over last season’s 55-win team, who had a net rating of +3.6. This also suggests that Boston has been playing better than their record indicates and are on par with a team like Toronto.
With the way the East has been in recent seasons, the Celtics current record would’ve been enough to compete for the #1 seed in most years. Record aside, Boston’s on-court NBA results are definitely on the incline.
Weak Remaining Schedule
Another thing in Boston’s favour is a relatively weak remaining schedule. They have only 8 games remaining against NBA teams with a winning record, including 2 against the 32-31 Sacramento Kings.
Win each of these contests and they’ve got a strong chance of catching the rival Indiana Pacers. Whilst Indiana has put up a very good fight of late, they simply aren’t the same threat without Victor Oladipo.
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) March 6, 2019
Importantly, they’ve also got 2 games left against these very same Pacers. Win both of these and Boston’s chances at a top #4 seed and a home playoff series improve significantly.
Given the competition out East this season, making the top 4 would be a huge advantage for a dominant home side like Boston. Should they get there, they look very tempting to win the East at $4.
Deep and Versatile Roster
Although some players aren’t receiving the minutes they’d like, the Celtics have arguably the deepest roster in the NBA. Especially on the wing, they have elite depth and can cover injuries well.
Whilst rotations tend to get shorter in the playoffs, Boston will still have a very capable 9-man rotation. Adding grinders Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris to a starting lineup featuring Kyrie, Al Horford, and Jayson Tatum has proved another masterstroke from Coach Brad Stevens.
What's crazy is Marcus Smart is the guard version of Draymond Green.. & vice/ versa
— Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) March 6, 2019
A bench featuring talent in Hayward, Brown, and Terry Rozier is enough to put fear into any opposition. Add in Aussie enforcer Aron Baynes and you’ve got a very solid second unit that could prove crucial come playoff time.
This depth is in stark contrast to some of their rivals in Philadelphia and Toronto, who are heavily reliant on injury-prone players in Joel Embiid and Kawhi Leonard. As the Celtics proved last season, they’re more than adept at thriving in the face of playoff injuries.
Whilst there has been a media circus surrounding his off-court antics this season, Kyrie has still been spectacular on the court. He earned another well-deserved NBA All-Star game appearance this year, the sixth of his career.
Carrying the offensive load for the Celtics all season, he currently averages an impressive 23.4 points and 7 assists. This has been done very efficiently as well, shooting over 49% from the field and 41% from 3.
Perhaps most importantly, he has come through the NBA playoff crucible before. He hit one of the biggest shots in recent memory to win Cleveland an NBA Championship.
As comfortably the best Guard in the East, his athleticism and silky-smooth handle make him very difficult to defend. With rivals like Milwaukee and Philadelphia devoid of Championship experience, Kyrie’s pedigree could prove invaluable for Boston.
At $4 to win the title and $17 to win the East, Boston are far from done in the 2018-19 NBA season. As last night’s victory in Oakland showed, a fit and firing Celtics side is capable of beating anyone. Especially if they can nab a top 4 seed, this is a team you just can’t count out until they’re officially eliminated.