A series of midseason new entries to the team propelled the Celtics into the Eastern Conference playoffs as no the no. 7 seed surprising many of its critics.
Even Isaiah Thomas (photo), former player of the Suns who was recently acquired by Boston, admitted that when joining the team he thought it was one of the worst teams in the NBA.
But Tuesday’s win against the Raptors convinced him he was wrong. In just two and a half months, the Celtics trajectory changed due to Thomas’ and other well-fitted acquisitions.
Jae Crowder, one of those new entries, helped the squad overcome the Raptors Tuesday and secured his new team a fifth straight win and a chance to play against the the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first-round.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Tuesday night that his team would be excited to play against the Cavs in the postseason matchup.
“Hey, to have a chance to compete against the very best in the league is a great opportunity. It’s a big mountain, but it is a great opportunity,”
However, not many people think that Boston would ever climb that mountain. But if the team doesn’t soften and continues to play as it did in the past couple of months, LeBron and Co. would certainly find it a challenge in the first round.
Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko thinks his team played some great basketball the last part of the season so he warned future contestants to be at least a little worried and not take them lightly. Jerebko also said that the Celtics proved just about everybody that they could beat every team in the NBA.
And Jerebko is not exaggerating. Since Feb. 2, Boston continued to stay on the second spot of the Eastern Conference with a hard-to-match 23-12 record. And most credit should go to the Celtics offense which was reinvigorated by shooters like Jerebko and Thomas.
Thomas usually averages 19 points per game, which is the team’s best at this moment, and excels at passing abilities with his 5.6 assists per game. Moreover, Jerebko’s three-point sharpshooting with 39.3 percent accuracy also resuscitated the Celtics offense and gave Stevens a valuable teammate to rely on in clutch situations.
However, although Boston’s offensive has been in the spot light, the rebuilding team didn’t neglect its defensive line either in the past couple of months. The team’s defensive efficiency recorded during its past 35 games made the Celtics an equal challenger to other elite defenses such as the Memphis Grizzlies or the Golden State Warriors.
In fact, its defensive consistency helped the Celtics remain competitive even when its offense wasn’t clicking.
Thomas recalls that coach Stevens repeated countless times on and off field that a defensive team must “play hard and play together” to stand a better chance.
But we’ll soon see how much of that theory the team can turn into practice when playing against the Cavs’ elite offense. Players such as Kyrie Irving, James, and Kevin Love are expected to push Boston’s defense to its limits.
Cleveland center Kendrick Perkins, former Celtics player, said Sunday that the Cavs were neither underestimating them nor taking them for granted since many Celtics players played with great confidence and had been doing a great job in the past few months.
Perkins admitted that his former team was currently capable of defeating any team in the league.
Image Source: NBA