Should the Celtics be taken seriously as a title contender?
Boston was struggling during the first third of the season. Although heading into the All-Star break, the team found its footing, winning nine of its last ten games and owning the best point differential in the Eastern Conference (+5.4) on the season.
The team’s defense coming together is a major reason why Ime Udoka’s club has risen in the standings (34-26). Udoka’s decision to place Robert Williams on wings off the ball has particularly paid off and as ESPN’s Zach Lowe details, the Celtics are now approaching the number one spot in defensive efficiency (Warriors).
Being elite on defense has been a recipe for success in the playoffs and history has shown us that point differential is a key indicator when predicting playoff series wins. The road to the Finals in the Eastern Conference could come down to matchups and the Bucks are surely a tough one for Boston, though other likely opponents seem much less daunting.
The Celtics are +1600 to win the title, behind just seven teams, including the Bucks (+600), Nets (+625), and Sixers (+800). It wouldn’t be surprising to see the club further boost itself up the standings post-All-Star break, especially as trade deadline addition Derrick White (3-1 since his arrival) gets even more acclimated with the team.
More NBA Rumors, Notes, & News
- Daryl Morey Says He Believes Ben Simmons: “I believe him. He was going through something,” Morey said of Simmons’ mental health issues (via the Rights to Ricky Sanchez podcast). “And it was just whether or not we could’ve gotten to the point where we would have him play basketball for us.”
- Doc Rivers on the Sixers’ Championship Timeline: “I always think right now,” Rivers told the local media on Thursday. “I’ve been in this league too long. And I always go back to [the Celtics’ 2007/08 NBA championship team.] Kevin [Garnett] and I talk about it all the time. I remember the first year during training camp we had a meeting and they were saying, ‘Man, we have to get it together. This might not be the year. But by next year, we might…’ I said, ‘Next year? Are you guys kidding me? Next year one of you can get hurt.’
- Latest on Anthony Davis: Davis left Wednesday’s game against the Jazz with what appeared to be a serious injury and the team has since announced that the big man has a mid-foot sprain. AD will be re-evaluated in four weeks.
- Victor Oladipo Update: The shooting guard is practicing with the Heat’s G League affiliate, Sioux City Skyforce, in five-on-five situations via The Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang. Oladipo has only played in four games for the Heat since the team traded for him at last year’s deadline.
- Bulls Addition: Tristan Thompson‘s last game against the Pacers came against the Wizards on Wednesday night and after the contest, coach Rick Carlisle essentially broke the news that Thompson would be joining the Bulls when speaking to the local media. Thompson is expected to suit up for Chicago following the All-Star break.
All-Star Weekend Special
Get up to $2,000 in Risk-Free Bets.
Use code: MVPBET at PointsBet
(restrictions apply; NY, IA, IL only).