It looks like the Celtics much-maligned offense has suddenly come alive. Kyrie Irving is one of the reasons for the streak. He leads the team in points per game for this season at 24.9/game and he has been on a tear since the All-Star break, averaging 28.2 PPG for the past five games, while also upping his rebounds to 5.0 per game and assists to 6.4.

In addition to his 56.8% field goal percentage, he is hitting 57.1% of his shots beyond the arc and 94.4% from the foul line for those same five games. And as many of our readers have indicated, he is accomplishing this while seeing a reasonable amount of minutes (30.3 MPG) of floor time. Brad Stevens is doing a fine job of keeping Irving's minutes in check for the final quarter of the season.

The Celtics currently hold the second spot in the Eastern Conference with a 44/19 record and a four-game winning streak. They face the Houston Rockets tonight with Houston in first place in the West with a 48/13 record and a a streak of 14 wins. James Harden is having an MVP-worthy season, notching 31.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 8.9 APG.

This will be Boston's first major test since the All-Star Break against one of the best teams in the League. Granted, it is only a very small five-game sample, but the Celtics hold the number-one spot in Offensive Rating for those games, one of which was prior to the break. Their Defensive Rating drops to the 18th spot for the five games, giving them fourth place in Net Rating, behind the Warriors, Raptors and Rockets.

Kyrie has not been the sole reason for the offensive spurt. The Celtics Bench has contributed significantly to the five-game run. Tonight's game will be revealing relative to Boston's chances in the playoffs. And with apologies to our let-Gordon-relax-see you-next-season readers, Justin Quinn's CelticsLife article with the tweet below was revealing. Hayward's low-level jumpers are the first impact we have witnessed on that injured left ankle.

"Looking pretty good to me" was Justin's comment, and I agree. His lateral movements are measured and his jumps very low, but in the near future, look for more aggressive movements, higher jumps and running on hardwood. He is close to travelling with the team.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC

Photo via Dale Zanine/ASAT

Tom Lane 3/03/2018 06:59:00 AM Edit
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