If the last three games are any indication, the Boston Celtics process of putting the seeds of doubt to rest has begun. Focus and intensity returned on both ends of the court, resulting in a three-game winning streak in which the average margin of victory was 30.6 points.
The week was stamped with an exclamation. In a game without Jayson Tatum, the Celtics initially tempted with playing down to an opponent. Ultimately, Boston took control and routed the San Antonio Spurs with a 137-93 victory.
This capped a week for the Celtics in which they climbed back to the no. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Boston leaped Philadelphia, holding a 2.5 game lead on the Sixers. Of more pressing importance, the Celtics are only 1.5 games back of the Milwaukee Buicks, with a huge meeting between the teams looming in the week ahead.
Glance at week ahead for Boston Celtics
The Celtics received a huge lift this week as the offense was flowing and shots were falling like they were to begin this season. Sandwiched between the routs of the Sacramento Kings and Spurs was a lockdown defensive effort in a 120-95 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
Carrying a winning streak into this week is good for morale, especially with a solid chance at growing the streak. Plus, the success last week guaranteed the Celtics can finish no lower than the no. 4 seed in the East. Unlike last season, when chess was being playing among the top four seeds in effort to avoid a possible match-up with the Brooklyn Nets, homecourt advantage and the top seed are the goals.
Another perfect week could see the Celtics pass the Bucks for the top seed, if all goes right.
First up is a road game (3/28) against the Washington Wizards, where the Celtics will be looking for the season sweep.
Jaylen Brown was the leading scorer both games against the Wizards, going for 24 in October and 36 points in a nine-point victory in late-November. Tatum had 23 in the first meeting and did not play the second, where the bench chipped in 46 points for Boston.
The date circled on the calendar is Thursday (3/30), where Boston plays in Milwaukee. Each team has one win in the season series. The Celtics, led by Tatum’s 41 points and Brown’s 29, owned the Christmas Day meeting with a 21-point victory.
Just prior to the All-Star break, with the Celtics missing Tatum, Brown, Al Horford, and Marcus Smart, the Bucks narrowly escaped with an overtime win.
The upcoming week closes out with a home game on Friday against the Utah Jazz, who the Celtics fell to by one point two weeks ago.
A team effort was on display this last week for Boston but individual efforts also had their place, too.
Boston Celtics: Player spotlights
Tatum, who missed Sunday’s game due to a hip contusion, scored a combined 70 points in victories over the Kings and Pacers.
It was Brown, however, who continued on his torrid stretch. Brown averaged 31.7 points, highlighted by 41 points on 18-29 shooting against the Spurs.
For good measure, Brown added 13 rebounds.
Derrick White, while adjusting to the return of Smart, saw some struggles early. But he has remained in the starting lineup and seen his minutes again increased. This resulted in a solid week where White scored 61 points in three games and collected 19 rebounds.
It was White’s passing, however, that should be spotlighted. Boston has averaged around 30 assists the last three games, with White contributing roughly eight of those per game. He began the week dishing out 12 against the Kings.
Games haven’t been too close this last week to know for sure but it appears White is on track to be more involved in clutch time. On average last week, he played seven more minutes per game than Smart.
A third spotlight belongs on the return of Robert Williams III, who makes the Celtics a much better defensive team when he’s healthy and available.
Williams had three blocks and three steals against the Pacers. Williams can affect the game even without stats and was a major factor coming off the bench. He only scored 21 points but averaged nearly eight rebounds per game in averaging about 19 minutes per game.
Seeing the Celtics play like this again is encouraging. A week like this was much-needed, especially after some of their struggles following the All-Star break. Boston getting their mojo back is fantastic and comes at exactly the right time.