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The Eastern Conference has been a joke so far this season. The Atlantic Division is a joke within the joke.

No one predicted the Boston Celtics would be in first place 20 games into the season with the mighty New York teams expected to battle for the division. Well, it turns out both the Knicks and Nets have some serious issues, which means 8-12 is good enough.

The Celtics may be reaping the benefits of being in an all-time pitiful division, but their record has still caught the eye of a couple of ex-coaches.

P.J. Carlesimo and George Karl both praised the effort and intensity Boston has played with thus far to Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe:
Karl added, “I think what my mind is telling me is that the game is going through some change, from analytics to how we’re coaching the team. And basically as a coach, you’ve got to be able to adapt and maneuver what you believe to the circumstances and the roster and the opportunities you have.”
Karl said he hasn’t watched many Celtics games this season, but from what he has seen, he has enjoyed watching Stevens grow.
“He almost reminds me of watching a young player,” Karl said. “You can almost see the light switch go on. I think he’ll become more comfortable. He’ll become more aggressive.”
“I would have never said, ‘They’ll be 8-12 at this stage.’ I would’ve never said that,” said ESPN analyst and former NBA head coach P.J. Carlesimo. “It’s just asking too much, without Rajon [Rondo] right now.”
Carlesimo, who has been on the Comcast SportsNet broadcast team for several Celtics games this year, added that with Rondo (knee) sidelined and Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce both traded to Brooklyn, the Celtics’ ability to be consistently competitive while leading the division at this point is simply “incredible.”
“I’ve been very, very impressed with what they’ve done so far,” Carlesimo said. “They continue to surprise me, to be honest with you. I really, really like the team. I really like the way they play.”
Granted, the Atlantic Division is awful, he noted. And the Celtics still have issues.
“They struggle to score — that’s the big problem,” he said. “They really struggle to score and they struggle with size.”

8-12 may not be anything special, but apparently for the Celtics it is impressing around the league. Now if you ask Brad Stevens, of course you get a different answer:

When asked how his team had “kept their heads above water” through a hectic November, finding itself atop the Atlantic Division standings, Stevens paused and gave a curious look before answering.
“Everybody is really optimistic,” he said after practice Thursday. “This ‘head above water’ thing — we’re 8-12.”

Exactly what I would want to hear from my head coach. The Celtics will look to hold onto first place at home tonight against the Denver Nuggets, the team Karl won NBA coach of the year with last season.

Source: Baxter Holmes - Boston Globe 

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Julian Edlow 12/06/2013 04:09:00 PM Edit
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