NBA: Ranking the top 5 Eastern Conference contenders

NBA Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NBA Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum (Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports) /

No. 2: Boston Celtics

At one point the Boston Celtics were 18-21, 11th in the Eastern Conference. Since then, they’ve won 28 of their last 35, climbing to within one game of the Heat. Their defense has been the best in the league since the turn of the calendar, often limiting opponents to under 100 points.

Between Tatum, Brown, Marcus Smart, Al Horford, Robert Williams, Derrick White, and Grant Williams, the Boston Celtics have no defensive weakness in their eventual playoff rotation. Additionally, their wing duo is both exceptional at generating baskets in isolation, which is very valuable when playoff possessions get slower.

Boston is simply a different team from the first two months of the season, and they are continuing to show that. They have recorded wins over Memphis, Utah, Golden State, Brooklyn, and Denver just in the past month, only dropping a game to Dallas in that stretch.

They have the personnel to excel on both sides of the ball, off the back of a young superstar who’s looking to cement himself as one of the top ten players in the league. Many questioned Smart playing the point guard role, but he’s improved as a distributor, recording nine assists in the first quarter alone against Utah on Wednesday.