Is it worth buying into the Boston Celtics recent win streak?

Enes Freedom #13 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Enes Freedom #13 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

The Boston Celtics are one of the hottest teams in the NBA currently. Winners of six straight and 13 of their last 17, the Celtics have finally found some consistency and have made a run up the Eastern Conference standings.

Boston has gone all the way from outside the Play-In Tournament to the #7 seed in the East in just a few weeks. And while the 7 seed may not seem like much to hoot and holler about, the C’s are just 4.5 games behind the #1 seeded Miami Heat, so the gap between them and the top really isn’t as large as it seems.

The Celtics recent surge has come right before the NBA Trade Deadline, and it has potentially changed the strategy Brad Stevens and the rest of the front office had before the deadline. It’s not surprising that Boston’s best run of the season has come with everyone healthy and some consistent rotations, making it less likely that a bunch of deals will be pulled off before the deadline strikes.

Yet even as Boston continues to power their way up the standings, it feels like their recent winning pedigree needs to be taken with a grain of salt. They have destroyed some teams while barely beating others, and many of their wins have come against awful teams or teams that are missing key players. With the Trade Deadline less than 24 hours away now, it’s time to decide whether the Boston Celtics are for real this time around.

The Boston Celtics win streak isn’t an accurate determinant of where this team stands

The sad truth is that despite the flashy stats and numbers that show just how good Boston has been recently, a lot of their best basketball has come against some really depleted teams. For instance, on the surface, the Celtics 126-91 victory over the Brooklyn Nets last night looks like it would be statement game for the C’s. Instead, it was a formality, as Brooklyn was without Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving.

This is pretty much how every game has gone for the Boston Celtics lately. Their defense is impressive, but when you realize that the teams they are holding to under 85 points are the Sacramento Kings or Orlando Magic, it becomes much less impressive. They haven’t really faced a healthy or competitive team for a couple of weeks now, and while the winning is impressive, things need to be reeled back a bit.

Now this isn’t to say this team hasn’t looked 10 times better recently, because they have. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have both finally found their rhythm this season, and they have both taken turns taking over games along the way. They have looked more and more like a pair recently than two guys looking to hit their scoring quotas, and that’s extremely encouraging for not just the rest of the season, but the future of this franchise.

Marcus Smart has taken a huge step forward as the team’s top facilitator, and his shot selection has improved drastically. Rob Williams continues to emerge as a truly dangerous threat on both sides of the ball at center, and he’s looking more and more like the third piece of the Tatum/Brown combo. Josh Richardson and Grant Williams have turned into knockdown perimeter shooters, and even Al Horford has looked better as of late.

The main reason for all of this is really just continuity. Head coach Ime Udoka has basically locked in an eight-man rotation that has helped lead the team to blowout wins before turning things over to the reserves. That time on the court wasn’t always a guarantee early in the season, and it’s definitely helped this team start to reach their full potential.

The issue with this win streak coming right before the Trade Deadline is that it’s incentivizing the front office to stand pat and let the rest of the season play out, which isn’t necessarily the wrong idea, but it’s not the best one either. There are still players on this team, such as Horford and Dennis Schroder, that Boston would probably be better without, both on the court and on the payroll. Just because the team is finally winning doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be moved.

I’m not saying that the Celtics are a piece or two away from being a true championship contender, but leaving this team in tact because you want to “see how the rest of the season goes” isn’t the right play. Boston has proven to be as inconsistent as they come over the past year and a half, and beating up unhealthy or just downright bad teams doesn’t change that. It would help if they beat some actual competition, but that hasn’t been the case lately.

C's are finding their sweet spot during win streak. dark. Next

The Boston Celtics have played much better recently, but contrary to what others may believe, their recent run of success doesn’t really change the tenor of this team. They still rely way too much on Tatum and Brown, they still don’t have enough shooting, and they still could use a true playmaker either on their bench or in the starting lineup.

The Celtics win streak has been nice, but until they prove they can beat teams when they are healthy and not when they are missing half of their team, it means nothing. Progress has been made, but not to the extent that everyone wants to believe, and for that reason, it’s not worth putting a ton of weight on the team’s recent win streak.