The Boston Celtics looked dead on February 23.After an embarrassing 119-104 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder (it wasn’t even that close most of the game), the Celtics were 15-17 going into the All-Star break.
A number of experts and pundits thought Boston’s old legs and lackluster effort could result in the team missing the playoffs.
Since then, the Celtics are on an incredible 15-5 surge propelling them to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and within striking distance of the Orlando Magic for the number three seed (1.5 games).
How have the Boston Celtics been able to completely turn around their season?
First and foremost, Boston’s offence has gotten dramatically better. The Celtics are averaging 95 points per game since the All-Star Game. Prior to that, they were scoring at a meager rate of 89.4 points per game.
The other reason why the Celtics are playing so well is because they have significantly cut down on turnovers. Before the break Boston averaged about 16 turnovers a game, since then they only cough it up about 13 times per game.
Boston’s next six games will prove if this run is to be taken seriously as they play the San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat, and Atlanta Hawks. (Sunday’s win over Miami came amid the Heat’s recent malaise.)
Detractors may scoff at the Celtics’ schedule over the last 20 games and say there’s little chance they can keep this up or turn it into a playoff run. The first 32 games are a better barometer for this old team, they’ll argue.
DON’T BUY IT.
The scheduling to this lockout-shortened season has been weird, negatively affecting an ageing team like Boston. Also, it’s not as if we’re making the argument that a five-game winning streak is proof enough. We’re looking at 20 games, a.k.a. a large enough sample size.
What does this mean going forward?
The Boston Celtics, NOT the Orlando Magic or anyone else, will provide Eastern Conference front runners the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls with the biggest threat come playoff time.
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