It's a damn good time to be a Celtics fan right now! The C's have been slowly climbing the Eastern Conference standings since their Jan. 22 win over the Chicago Bulls. Over the past 19 days, the team is tied with the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors for the best record in their last 10 games at 9-1. They have also scored at least 100 points in 15 of their last 16 games. You could argue that there is no hotter team in the NBA right now than the Boston Celtics.
With just two games against the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers before a nine-day All-Star break, some C's fans are concerned that the break may be coming at the wrong time for a team that has been dominating for the past three weeks. While the concern is a genuine one, let me tell you why this upcoming break will not impact the play of this team going forward.
First and foremost, the Celts have a very easy schedule coming out of their week off. While they do start out on a three-game Western Conference road-trip, they will be taking on the Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves. The team already has convincing wins against the Nuggets and Timberwolves earlier in the season, and while the Jazz have been playing well over the past few weeks, I don't think they will pose a problem for this Celtics team that has recently found their rhythm. Following the road trip, they return home for a five-game home stand against more underwhelming teams. Their schedule after the break affords the Celtics the opportunity to shake off some rusts and still be able to pull out wins against inferior competition.
Secondly, and most importantly in my opinion, is the fact that this recent stretch of impressive play has not just been a fluke. If you remember, way back in the end of November Jae Crowder called for a more set rotation from the coaching staff. Since those comments were made, Brad Stevens has definitely taken steps to shorten the bench and give some more consistency to the team. David Lee has not played in the last 16 games and seems to be on his way out of Boston. Tyler Zeller and Jonas Jerebko have taken Lee's minutes and really started to shine in recent weeks. Most importantly, the bench unit has returned to its early-season glory:
Now that the Celtics have figured out their rotations, the bench is proving to be a major asset. They just pound on opponents every night.— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) February 6, 2016
While some players like Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk have been riding a hot hand which has contributed to the elite-level offense, this team finally has some structure and Stevens has made the decision to take people like Lee out of the rotation. While unfortunate for Lee, it has been what is best for the team.
Photo Credit: Tony Dejak/AP Photo
Follow Connor Casey on Twitter @Connor_Casey5 Connor Casey 2/09/2016 12:24:00 PM Tweet Edit