The Boston Celtics Are The Hottest Team In The NBA – Forbes

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The Boston Celtics attempts a three-point basket over the Atlanta Hawks’ De’Andre Hunter #12 of the … [+] Atlanta Hawks during the first half at State Farm Arena on November 16, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The streak should have ended on Wednesday night. Missing both Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon, the shorthanded Boston Celtics were on the road against a tough Atlanta Hawks team. Instead, the Celtics’ offense smothered the Hawks and Boston emerged with a 126-101 win. This was supposed to be Boston’s adjustment period, instead they are 12-3, winners of their last eight straight games.
They took a winding path to get into this position. When they revamped their roster early in the offseason with the addition of Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari, the Celtics were positioned as one of the elite teams in the NBA. Then Gallinari suffered a season-ending ACL injury, center Robert Williams underwent knee surgery and—most publicly—they suspended head coach Ime Udoka for a year for multiple violations of team policy.
With uncertain leadership and untested rotation depth, most expected the Celtics to feel things out to start the season. Instead, the Celtics have raced off to one of the hottest starts in team history. The Celtics don’t just lead the league in offense, the gap is not even particularly close.
The key reason for their offensive explosion? Well, clearly, it starts with the Jayson Tatum-Jaylen Brown permanently putting to rest any theories about why the two players couldn’t be on the same team. Tatum might be finally emerging as the MVP candidate that he always looked like he could be, while Brown has remained the steadying presence he’s always been.
While Tatum making the leap is the flashy storyline in the Celtics’ start there’s also a more mundane reason for Boston’s success. After throwing away their chance at a championship against the Golden State Warriors in the Finals a few months ago, the Celtics have started the season as one the league’s top teams in limiting turnovers. One part of the numbers they are putting up are a direct result of the players valuing every offensive position.
It also doesn’t hurt that the role players have all stepped up. Grant Williams has entered the starting rotation due to Williams’s injury. Brogdon has instantly fit in with his new team, establishing himself as the Sixth Man type that this team could have used last postseason. Meanwhile, as of Thursday morning, second-year player Sam Hauser has been leading the league in plus/minus, beating out MVP Nikola Jokic.
Obviously, it’s hard to imagine that Hauser will be number one in that category for much longer, even if it looks like his three-point shot is legit. This leads to the inevitable question about Boston’s run: is the hot start papering over some potential problems for the Celtics?
Possibly. Under Udoka, Boston made it to the NBA Finals based on a strong defensive identity. It’s obviously partly because they are missing their starting center in Williams, but it also partly could be that “interim” head coach Joe Mazzulla has a different approach. Either way, right now the Celtics are settling for outscoring their opponents and, while that’s working so far, it’s not an ideal game plan for long-term success.
So, yes, it’s an 82-game season and there is no way that the Celtics are going to maintain their current stretch of success for an entire season. However, this is no time to throw out the “small sample size” caveats. Right now, the team is playing some of the best basketball of the Tatum-Brown era and it should have fans excited for what this roster could do once Williams returns.

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