The Celtics were simply unwatchable through the first half of this season. Every good win was followed up by two or three bad losses. One step forward, two steps backward. It was painful.
There was a month-long period from December 1st to January 2nd in which the C’s failed to win two games in a row. Two months later, they’ve proceeded to somehow make up for that disastrous run by going on an even longer stretch of not losing two in a row. The last time Boston experienced back-to-back losses was against the Hornets and the Trail Blazers on January 19th and 21st, both at home, to drop their record below .500 at 23-24. Since then, they’ve gone 16-3 and find themselves just one game behind Chicago for the 4th seed in the East.
Brad Stevens’ aggressiveness at the trade deadline in getting rid of Dennis Schroder and bringing in Derrick White has a lot to do with the Celtics’ resurgence, but the bulk of the credit has to go to Jayson Tatum. The man has been unstoppable. Over that 19-game span in which the Celtics have gone 16-3, the 24 year-old has averaged 29 points per game on 48% shooting. He’s dropped 50-plus twice and he’s miraculously managed to steal headlines from Ja Morant, who was the hottest topic in the NBA until he came to Boston last Thursday and was outdueled by JT.
A big knock against the Celtics early on was their inability to stand up to elite competition. They’ve now won 11 in a row against teams that are currently in the playoff picture. They just beat the fully healthy Nets in what was easily their biggest test of the season thus far. A 126-120 thriller that had the Garden rocking like it was 2008. As the postseason approaches, it appears our early season assessments were a bit premature and we all owe Ime Udoka a massive apology. We could be in for a hell of a spring on Causeway Street.