For any long-time sports fan like myself, you've probably had to experience watching your team play down to a lesser opponent on a certain night or even for a span of time. Not every game does the "superior" team end up tallying a mark in the win column as we know sports just aren't that simple.
But in the same token, for every time a team may not play up to par against squads they should, there are other nights they may step up and prevail when they maybe shouldn't have. This sort of up and down scenario has been playing out for almost all of the 2017-18 season for the Boston Celtics.
Hitting a rough patch to start the first few weeks of December, it almost seemed like the theme for the month for coach Brad Stevens' troop was "let's see how many bad teams we can lose to before Christmas!" And it got pretty bad.
Dropping four games in that stretch of roughly 12 days, the Green lost to, at the time, a league-worst Chicago Bulls team, a decimated Utah Jazz squad, the barely .500 Miami Heat, and the ever-tumultous New York Knicks. It was definitely a low point for C's fans this year and many we're left scratching their heads night after night as to why the team was struggling so bad. Even with the flux of injuries at the time from Kyrie Irving's facial fracture to Marcus Morris knee problems, Boston's deep lineup still should've held the advantage on any of these given nights.
But in basketball as it is in life, where there is give, there is take. And where the Celtics may have been pretty deficient, to put it nicely, against bad teams, it's been quite a different story against teams on the other side of the spectrum.
Celtics own the NBA’s best defensive rating at 100.4. And they’ve really turned things up vs top teams in Boston ... pic.twitter.com/wLRxLJ59O6
Starting off 2018 in rather nice fashion, the Celtics have continued their incredible play against the NBA's best teams from the fall into the new year.
With back to back wins against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers then the Karl-Anthony Towns-led Minnesota Timberwolves, the Green have now improved their record to 6-0 at home vs. the other six NBA teams with a win percentage of .600 or higher, as noted in CelticsLife editor-in-chief Mark van Deusen's tweet here.
There are 6 NBA teams besides the Celtics with a .600 winning percentage or better (Cavs, Raptors, Warriors, Rockets, Spurs, Wolves). Boston is 6-0 against them at home.
While we've still just bought new calendars as we've turned another leaf into 2018, the season is still relatively young. Only at the halfway point, there will be plenty of opportunities down the road for us to continue to gauge how the Celtics will fare come playoff time.
One of these games will be the third and final regular season matchup between the Cavs and us when they return to the TD Garden on February 11th. As well as being Paul Pierce's jersey retirement night, the game will now controversially include Isaiah Thomas' official Celtics tribute -- Don't worry Paul, most Celtics fans agree with you that it should be just YOUR night.
Kyrie offered his thoughts on the last tilt between his former team and him a few nights back...
Kyrie Irving on another meeting with the Cavs: "For me, it’s just another opportunity for us to be better and challenge ourselves in order to be kind of in the same sentence as the best teams. We gotta play against the best and we gotta beat the best." https://t.co/1QgeRdVxFQ
As the C's are entering an easier part of their schedule, it won't be for at least another three weeks until the East's top dog squares off with another contender when they'll travel to Oakland. Facing off with the reigning champion Golden State Warriors, this will be the second time this year they play each other in 2017-2018 as the Celtics look to extend their record to 2-0 against them.
In the mean time, let's just hope these next six games don't play out similar to that stretch in early December. With a healthy full squad for the most part and a lot less busier schedule, Celtics fans should expect these few weeks to be a lot smoother than last month. But as I said, let's hope.
How do you feel about the Celtics performance this year vs. the league's top teams? Let us know in the comments below!