Boston Celtics: A legit East contender no one wants to face in the playoffs

Boston Celtics Jaylen Brown (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)
Boston Celtics Jaylen Brown (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Boston Celtics are quickly transforming into an Eastern Conference contender that no one will want to face in the playoffs. 

Just before the midway point of the season, the Boston Celtics looked more like a team that was in desperate need of a roster shakeup than one that suggested a contender in any way. However, over the last few months, things have drastically changed in Boston.

Led by Jayson Tatum, the Celtics have strongly bought into first-year head coach Ime Udoka’s system and philosophy and it has paid huge dividends.

The ball is moving on the offensive end and the team is as fierce as ever defensively. Add that into Tatum’s strong individual game and the Celtics have quickly transformed from a playoff afterthought to a legit Eastern Conference co tender that no one will want to play in the postseason.

Since January 8, the Celtics (27-7) have had the best record in the East and the second-best record in the NBA. During that span, the Celtics have the fourth-best offensive rating in the league and the best defense. They also have a league-leading 13.3 net rating.

Boston has merely been better since the beginning of January. There’s a fair argument that could be made that they’ve been the best team in the league.

Tatum, in the team’s last 34 games, is averaging 28 points, eight rebounds, and four assists on 48 percent shooting from the field and 37 percent shooting from 3-point range. His co-star, Jaylen Brown, is averaging 23 points, six rebounds, and four assists on 47 percent shooting over that stretch.

Boston’s dynamic duo has been overwhelming on the offensive end, which has been something that was missing for the majority of the first half of the season. However, now that the Celtics are playing more as a team on that end of the floor, they’ve become that much more dangerous.

Heading into the playoffs, the Celtics are a team that no one in the East will want to face in the playoffs. They have two big ingredients that suggest this team is a real contender – they play elite defense and have two stars that can go off on any night.

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The Celtics are real and they’re spectacular.