Here’s the thing about this team right now. Almost everyone on the roster is improving. Brandon Bass, Jordan Crawford, and Jeff Green are playing some of their best sustained basketball in their NBA careers. Avery Bradley is shooting the ball less and is becoming more efficient lately while doing it. Jared Sullinger is doing what he does, better than any of us could have expected to this quickly after his surgery.
The second unit veterans are buying in and playing their ass off. The rookies are holding their own, and now we have a Celtics team that has won three of their last four games, and scored over 100 points in all three of those wins. The defense is already solid, and the offense is coming around quite quickly with the reduced turnovers (season-low 10 last night) and increased ball movement (25 assists). This team also isn’t collapsing now when they blow 20-point leads, like they did early in the season. They trust each other now and Brad Stevens is pushing the right buttons.
Now Boston has a 1.5 game lead in the Atlantic Division and things are starting to get a bit real here, since we know Mr. Stevens isn’t going to get lazy. I don’t want to say goodbye to the lottery yet, but if your not fully on the bandwagon yet, hop aboard. It should be a fun ride this month.
Now time for last night’s grades.
|Brandon Bass, PF 31 MIN | 4-7 FG | 6-6 FT | 8 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | 0The numbers aren’t flashy, but check out how he stuffed that box score. Tying a career high with four assists AND three block? He also get Boston’s offense above water in the middle quarters by feasting on Faried/Hickson and company in the post. Bass is gaining more and more confidence by the day and I’m liking what I’m seeing.|
|Jared Sullinger, PF 20 MIN | 4-13 FG | 0-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -12Sully was due for a stinker and we got one tonight. Luckily, he knows when to draw the line and didn’t go 5-for-20. He’s a smart player and that helps on nights like this. He also came back late in the 4th and hit a floater during crunch time, so that helps.|
|Avery Bradley, PG 31 MIN | 8-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | +13Avery Bradley is averaging 10.5 points in the first quarter during his past two games. He was a major part of the C’s first quarter demolition of the Nuggets. He barely took a shot for the rest of the game (3 shots in final 3 quarters) but honestly, that’s fine with me. Docked slightly for Nuggets’ guards going off in 2nd half.|
|Jeff Green, SG 33 MIN | 6-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | +4Like Bass, helped keep C’s offense above water for middle couple quarters. Played well with second unit for most of the fourth quarter. Still would love to see him hit the glass more, since it would be nice to see him go coast-to-coast more, but another efficient night. No complaints here.|
|Jordan Crawford, SG 34 MIN | 9-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 22 PTS | +5I asked Jordan after the game if this had been the best stretch of his NBA career. He scoffed at that suggestion, replying “not even close.” Just another reason to love Jordan Crawford, who is averaging 18-5-7 in his last 4 games! It’s happening people!|
|Kris Humphries, PF 24 MIN | 8-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | +26If this game doesn’t shut up the Garden hecklers, nothing well. Just smart deliberate play from Hump on both sides of the floor, to make up for a crappy game from Sully. You could tell his teammates really loved after the game that Hump was getting the spotlight. These guys actually do like each other! Danny is really going to love working the phones later this month.|
|Gerald Wallace, SF 25 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-2 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | 0Don’t worry about the points with Gerald, it’s the other categories that matter.|
|Vitor Faverani, C 20 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +7Anytime you get a little scoring spurt from Vitor, it’s a nice bonus. He’s still shooting a little too much on offense for my liking (almost every time he touches the ball in the paint) but helped stabilize things with the second unit.|
|Phil Pressey, PG 13 MIN | 0-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -2Brought the energy and managed not to have a size mismatch one night against Nate Robinson. Loved that Stevens stuck with him so long, even though Bradley/Crawford were having great shooting nights.|
|Courtney Lee, SG 11 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1I don’t remember anything about how he played.|
Imagine how good this team is going to be when it has a star and a better supporting cast with Brad at the helm. For now though, this whole team is buying in and working their ass off. Saying goodbye to the lottery might happen.