Celtics coming off best month in Brad Stevens era

As the calendar changed to February, the Celtics knew that the month could make or break their season. The team was 16-30 and searching desperately for a hot streak to push them into the weak Eastern Conference playoff race.

Thanks to a 7-4 month, the Celts got that needed boost, as they sit 1.5 games back of the Indiana Pacers for the eighth seed. In the C's four February losses the point differential was just 6.5 per game. If a few breaks went their way (Thomas' BS ejection in LA or the questionable late game execution in Milwaukee) they could have had an even more impressive month.

Looking at the positive side, the Celtics put up 102 points per in the 11 games, good for sixth overall in the league. At 46 rebounds per contest the green again ranked sixth overall, not bad for a team that ended the month playing Jae Crowder and Jonas Jorebko at center.

Coach Brad Stevens was also nominated for Coach of the Month, but the honor went to Indiana's Frank Vogel:

What was most remarkable during the month may not necessarily be seen on a stat sheet. The culture around the team has clearly changed. The addition of Isaiah Thomas (who was named Eastern Conference Player of the week today) has injected life, not only into the C's roster, but the city itself.

The last few games at the TD Garden sounded like a playoff atmosphere. You almost got the impression that it was May and the C's were battling to eliminate a team on the parquet. But instead you walk outside to shovel your driveway for the 100th time this winter, and you realize it's only February.

In true Bill Belichick fashion, the Celts will need to put the month behind them because March is going be an all out grind. They have already seen the best of the best, losing a 26 point lead to the Warriors on Sunday night, and the schedule doesn't get any easier.

Stevens and his crew will need to make their final drive for a playoff spot against some tough road opponents including Cleveland (37-24) on Tuesday, as well as visits to New Orleans (32-27), Oklahoma City (33-27), San Antonio (36-23), Indiana (25-34) who may be welcoming back Paul George, and home games against Memphis (42-16), and the Clippers (39-21).

Photo by Steve Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

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