The Celtics have been red hot lately and winning at a very high pace. Since their loss to the Knicks on Jan. 12th, capping a 4 game skid and bringing the team down to .500, they have gone 18-6 with impressive wins over contenders like the Cavaliers and Clippers along the way. They have also won 12 straight at home and are favored (-9.5) to get their 13th against the aforementioned Knicks tonight. Veterans like Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko (Yes Jerebko is actually considered a vet on this team) have noticed that while winning certainly helps, this team is locked in and chemistry is at an all time high. From Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald:
“I just like the way we play together, the way everybody’s playing for each other,” (Jerebko) said. “It’s something that’s not usual in the NBA."
“It’s the first time I’ve seen it like this,” said the resident of the NBA since 2009 and — at 29 — two months older than the second-oldest Celtic, Amir Johnson. “That’s why I came back. I wanted to be a part of this. I knew we had something going on.”
“I think guys are starting to recognize just what they can contribute to the team — even coach recognizing minutes-wise when he can bring guys in,” said Johnson. “He has his two guys come off the bench, ET (Evan Turner) and Marcus, and then we’re all getting comfortable with the rotation. Guys know when they’re coming in and they know what their job is on the team.”
Things really seem to be clicking and chemistry appears to be what's driving this team whose roster on paper wouldn't turn many heads. Jerebko seems to credit that to his teammates' ability to step up in the big moments.
“I feel like we really have guys who can step up,” said Jerebko. “Every night it can be a different guy. We obviously have Isaiah (Thomas), who’s very hard to stop and gets a lot of attention from the defense. But we have guys who can step up and make shots. First of all, we’re a defensive team. I feel like when we play tough defense, that kind of fuels our offense. So that’s where we’ve got to pride ourselves.”
These Celtics have a lot of similarities to last year, the post 2015 trade deadline team anyways. Hot second half stretch, strong ball-movement, tough defense, chip on their shoulders, and a no-quit attitude. While that team was swept in the first round, something feels different about this team. A full training camp with their all-star Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley's improved shooting, Jae Crowder's offensive emergence, and Amir Johnson added inside defensive presence have really given Celtics nation something to cheer for and give hope. When asked how far this team can go, Johnson had this to say:
“It depends,” said Johnson. “When we lock in defensively, I think we’re one of the best teams. If we can stay consistent, I think we’re definitely one of the top teams. When we’re getting stops, we can beat anybody.”
We won't know how far this team can go until the playoffs, but for now we can focus on what's ahead of us. First, an Atlantic division match up with the Knicks tonight, followed by a much anticipated rematch in Cleveland tomorrow.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt York
Follow Nolan on Twitter @NolanChuck Nolan Connor 3/04/2016 11:44:00 AM Tweet Edit