NBA: 5 storylines to follow during the homestretch of the regular season

Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum (Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports)
Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum (Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

How real are the Celtics?

It’s pretty hard to come up with any reason why the Celtics wouldn’t be a real contender right now, but it looked so bad the first couple of months of the season that it might be hard to take them seriously.

The numbers are pretty overwhelming, though. On January 6th, the Celtics lost a game to the Knicks. Since that game, they have the best record in the East at 21-6, but the advanced stats are even more impressive.

Since that loss to the Knicks, Boston has the 6th best offense in the NBA, and by far the best defense. The Celtics are +12.4 points per 100 possessions during that same span, which is over four points per 100 better than the Suns, who have been pretty dominant themselves over the last two months.

This is not the same Boston team from early in the season that looked disjointed and headed for a play-in game. This team has a lot of momentum, and perhaps more importantly, an identity as the best defense in the NBA.