Do The Celtics Have What It Takes To Go On Title Run?

Boston Celtics, NBA News
NBA Analysis Network

Just about halfway through the 2021-22 NBA season, fans of the Boston Celtics were giving up on this year and already calling for a change in leadership and change amongst the roster ahead of the trade deadline. At this point, the Celtics were just 18-21 and really struggling to find their identity entering 2022. 

Since this 39-game mark, the Celtics have gone 27-7, the second-best record in the NBA next to the Phoenix Suns, who have gone 28-6 since January 7

Offensively, not much has changed with this team, but defensively, the Celtics have figured out what kind of team they are. It took a little longer than many had wanted in Boston, but head coach Ime Udoka has the Celtics as a defensive juggernaut in the Eastern Conference that is just 2.5 games back from the 1-seeded Miami Heat with just 9 games remaining on their schedule. 

Since December 31, the Boston Celtics rank first in defensive rating (104.2), fifth in offensive rating (116.5), first in net rating (12.3) and third in true shooting percentage (59.3), making them one of the toughest teams to play in the league over the last few months. 

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Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have continued to be the driving forces for the Celtics offensively, as the two All-Star talents have combined to average 51.5 points per game since the start of 2022 and Marcus Smart has really stepped up this season on both ends of the court. 

The league average for points allowed in a game this season is around 110.1 points allowed per game. Currently 9-1 in the month of March, the Celtics have only given up 110 or more points in two games this month and since the start of 2022, they have given up 110 or more points in just 8 of 37 games.

What the Celtics have been able to do defensively against some of the best teams in the league truly is monumental and both the effort and tenacity they have defensively can be seen in the clips below against some of the better teams in the league.

Boston’s ability to constantly shift their defense and not only switch on screens, but recover on their mistakes around the rim truly is amazing and no team in the league, even one of the better offensive teams in the Warriors, have been unable to crack the code on the Celtics’ defense. 

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Offensively, the Celtics are not the strongest team, but Jayson Tatum has quickly become one of the league’s deadliest scorers. 

Since the All-Star break, Jayson Tatum is averaging 32.6 points (3rd in NBA), 7.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists, he is shooting 50.2% from the floor and is shooting 42.6% from three-point range. In 13 games since the All-Star break, Tatum has scored at least 30 points on nine different occasions, including a 54-point performance against Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets. 

With Jayson Tatum now leading the league in total points scored this season (1,863), there is very little teams can do against the Celtics, especially when they are moving the ball like they did to open up the game against the Nuggets on March 20. 

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Whether or not the Boston Celtics can win a title heavily relies on how the rest of the Eastern Conference standings play out, as there are multiple championship contending teams in the East this season, but Boston definitely has a good thing going right now and have some metrics to back up the idea that they are a “team to beat” in regards to the NBA Finals this season. 

Of the last ten teams to have won the NBA Finals, all but one of them (2020-21 Bucks) ranked inside the Top-10 for the season in defensive rating and six of the last ten championship teams ranked inside the Top-5 in defensive rating for the season. 

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Defense wins championships and right now, having one of the most suffocating defenses in the league, the Celtics have a chance to go far into the playoffs. 

Looking to make the NBA Finals for the first-time since 2010 and possibly win their first title since 2008, the Boston Celtics have everything they need to extend their season into June with the potential of winning their 18th title in franchise history.

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