Boston enters Tuesday’s nationally televised match-up with the Houston Rockets on an lively, seven-game profitable streak, climbing into sole possession of the No. Three seed within the Japanese Convention. If not for the unbelievable run of the Toronto Raptors, the Celtics would doubtless be receiving extra consideration (and/or credit score) for this binge and, even past the seven-game explosion, Boston is 10-1 in its final 11 video games.
The Celtics have a +11.7 web score throughout that 11-game interval, posting top-three marks within the NBA on offense (117.2 factors per 100 possessions) and protection (105.5 factors allowed per 100). Making issues much more spectacular, Boston has been with out key items throughout varied phases of their eruption, with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Kemba Walker, Marcus Good and Enes Kanter all sidelined in small pockets.
There are numerous heroes for the Celtics which, fairly truthfully, permits for the kind of steadiness that may face up to the harm points they’ve confronted. Tatum has been stellar in current days, scoring 20 factors or extra in 9 straight appearances and averaging 26.7 factors per sport on 49 p.c three-point capturing in that point. Brown has been glorious this season, Hayward has recaptured a few of his outdated kind, Kanter and Good fill roles fantastically, and Walker is enjoying just like the All-Star he was in Charlotte. Throw in a cavalcade of younger gamers that may step up into larger roles to fill the gaps and a big-time coach in Stevens… and the outcomes are off the charts.
Along with the straightforward acknowledgement of what has been a ridiculously spectacular stretch of basketball, the Celtics must also encourage questions on whether or not Boston can significantly problem Milwaukee for Japanese Convention supremacy. The Raptors have been so sizzling that the dialogue has (sort of) occurred, the Sixers have been within the vocal combine for months and even the Warmth have garnered consideration with their actions on the commerce deadline. In the meantime, Boston is simply hanging round and, at 37-15 with a web score that will rival any non-Bucks workforce in your complete league, it’s time to begin paying even nearer consideration.
The place do the Celtics land on this week’s DIME energy rankings? Let’s examine in.
1. Milwaukee Bucks (46-7, Final week — 1st)
The Bucks have been the perfect workforce within the NBA for months and so they aren’t slowing down. Milwaukee is 16-2 for the reason that calendar flipped to 2020 and, throughout the final week, Mike Budenholzer’s workforce went 4-Zero with each win by double figures.
2. Toronto Raptors (40-14, Final week — 2nd)
It’s a testomony to the Bucks that the Raptors by some means aren’t No. 1 this week. Toronto hasn’t misplaced a basketball sport since Jan. 12 and they’re driving a franchise-best profitable streak of 15 video games. Even if you wish to make an argument a few comparatively simple schedule through the stretch, it’s actually, actually arduous to win 15 NBA video games in a row.
The Celtics simply hold profitable video games.
4. Los Angeles Lakers (40-12, Final week — third)
There isn’t a lot to flat-out concern you in regards to the Lakers, however Los Angeles is a modest 7-5 within the final 12 video games. The good buyout candidate hasn’t emerged but both, leaving some uncertainty with roster steadiness because the playoffs loom. In taking a step again, although, the Lakers are nonetheless fairly good.
5. Denver Nuggets (38-16, Final week — eighth)
Denver ended final week with a reasonably dangerous loss in Detroit, slipping to No. Eight on this area. The Nuggets then righted the ship with haste, profitable all 4 video games this week, together with a back-to-back sweep over Portland and Utah. In an encouraging twist, it was Jamal Murray main the way in which within the final three victories, and the Nuggets want him to be good.
6. L.A. Clippers (37-16, Final week — 4th)
The Clippers nonetheless encourage loads of confidence and nobody ought to fear. There simply needed to be some sort of penalty for shedding to the Wolves (a workforce that was on a 13-games shedding streak) by 27 factors.
7. Utah Jazz (35-18, Final week — 10th)
Quin Snyder’s workforce gained 19 of 21 video games. Then, the Jazz misplaced 4 video games in a row. Now, Utah has gained three straight and the wins got here towards Portland, Houston and Dallas. Sooner or later, you simply throw up your fingers.
8. Miami Warmth (35-18, Final week — sixth)
Hassle in Miami? The Warmth are 8-Eight within the final 16 video games. There aren’t too many dangerous losses within the bunch, however no one can be thrilled by that run. Miami might in all probability use the All-Star break and, poof, it’s right here.
9. Philadelphia 76ers (33-21, Final week — 11th)
Furkan Korkmaz simply scored 65 factors in a two-game span to steer Philly to a pair of wins. That’s wonderful and, bizarrely, the Sixers wanted it in a giant means.
10. Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder (32-21, Final week — 12th)
The Thunder are simply good at basketball. OKC is 21-7 within the final 28 video games and so they almost upset Boston on a giant Sunday afternoon stage. Nobody must be stunned by something that this workforce does in a optimistic path. It’s not a fluke or a sizzling streak.
11. Houston Rockets (33-20, Final week — seventh)
If nothing else, it’s going to be wildly fascinating to look at the whole lot play out in Houston. They gained 4 in a row not too long ago earlier than dropping the final two video games however, within the large image, it’s all about whether or not their excessive small-ball experiment can work.
12. Dallas Mavericks (32-22, Final week — ninth)
A 5-7 file within the final 12 video games isn’t incredible by any means, although the Mavericks do have the excuse of Luka Doncic’s harm. We’ll be taught loads about Dallas after the break when they’re at nearer to full power.
13. Memphis Grizzlies (27-26, Final week — 16th)
Projection methods nonetheless don’t love Memphis as a playoff workforce however, with lower than 30 video games remaining, they’ve a 2.5-game cushion on the sector within the West. The Grizzlies are 14-Four within the final 18 video games and, whereas they aren’t as “new” anymore, this stays a incredible story.
14. Portland Path Blazers (25-29, Final week — 14th)
The Blazers haven’t misplaced to a non-playoff workforce since Jan. 9. They’re merely caring for enterprise and, effectively, Damian Lillard just isn’t of this planet. He has led Portland in scoring in 16 consecutive video games.
Given the place they’re the standings, the good wager is to imagine that the Pelicans gained’t make the playoffs. That gained’t be for lack of attempting, although, with New Orleans boasting a 16-9 file within the final 25 video games. It is a good basketball workforce that merely received off to a disastrous begin.
16. Brooklyn Nets (24-28, Final week — 17th)
Brooklyn remains to be six video games again of the No. 6 workforce (Indiana) however the Nets are waking up from their slumber. They’re 6-Three within the final 9 video games and, after a journey within the wilderness, the Nets really feel like a playoff workforce once more.
17. Indiana Pacers (31-23, Final week — 13th)
The Pacers are higher than this rating, however Indiana has misplaced six in a row. Groups which are purported to be nearly as good because the Pacers aren’t purported to lose six video games in a row. To make issues worse, 5 of the six defeats got here at residence. Yikes.
18. Sacramento Kings (21-32, Final week — 20th)
Sacramento discovered rock-bottom in late January however, since then, the Kings are seemingly holding the practice on the tracks. The workforce is 6-Three within the final 9 video games and the losses got here to the Thunder, Lakers and Bucks.
19. San Antonio Spurs (22-31, Final week — 18th)
The Spurs are in the course of their annual rodeo street journey, with eight video games in a row (sandwiched round All-Star Weekend) away from San Antonio. In brief, issues didn’t begin effectively, with the Spurs shedding the primary 5 contests. There aren’t any dangerous losses within the bunch however, when attempting to compete for the playoffs, that sort of skid isn’t nice.
20. Orlando Magic (23-31, Final week — 19th)
On the intense aspect, the Magic gained their final sport, needing to return from behind to topple the Hawks at residence. Extra pessimistically, Orlando is 3-10 within the final 13 and, if not for the barren Japanese Convention, they’d be in actual bother in a playoff pursuit.
21. Washington Wizards (18-33, Final week — 21st)
They’re attending to reasonable effectiveness in a weird means, however the Wizards aren’t horrible. They’re 8-9 within the final 17 and, normally, it’s enjoyable to look at a workforce that may explode offensively on any given evening.
22. Phoenix Suns (21-33, Final week — 22nd)
After one thing of a promising stretch, the Suns are 1-6 within the final seven video games. To be truthful, that one victory was a throttling of the Rockets (by 36 factors) however Phoenix hasn’t precisely been the image of consistency this season.
23. Atlanta Hawks (15-40, Final week — 27th)
The Hawks had been by no means purported to be as dangerous as they had been via 40 video games, with Atlanta compiling an 8-32 file on account of varied points. Since then, the Hawks are 7-Eight and so they simply added a pair of high quality large males in Clint Capela and Dewayne Dedmon. They aren’t going to make the playoffs or something, however the Hawks are all of a sudden trying just like the workforce they had been purported to be.
It feels just like the Knicks must be greater after profitable 4 video games in a row and, in fact, New York is enjoying significantly better basketball. Nonetheless, they had been pushed to the brink towards the struggling Pistons after which blew a significant alternative towards the Hawks on Sunday in double-overtime. This looks like the fitting spot.
25. Charlotte Hornets (17-36, Final week — 28th)
Within the final 15 video games, the Hornets are 2-13. That’s clearly fairly dangerous. Charlotte’s solely wins in that stretch had been towards the Knicks at residence and the dreadful Pistons on the street in a sport the place the profitable workforce scored 87 factors. I don’t know.
26. Chicago Bulls (19-35, Final week — 23rd)
As quickly because it felt just like the Bulls had at the very least a fringe likelihood at a playoff run, they misplaced 5 in a row. Granted, 4 of these video games on the street and Chicago was the underdog in all 5, so it was explainable… however they nonetheless misplaced 5 in a row.
27. Detroit Pistons (19-37, Final week — 25th)
It’s a large number in Detroit. Not solely did they select to provide Andre Drummond away (even when that transfer was defensible), the Pistons simply misplaced at residence to the Knicks and Hornets inside a three-night span. In all honesty, Detroit is likely to be the worst workforce within the league at this very second. That’s in play.
28. Golden State Warriors (12-42, Final week — 26th)
On one hand, the Warriors are 3-18 within the final 21 video games and so they have the worst file within the NBA. On the opposite, Golden State has been fairly aggressive within the final two video games and so they opened February with street wins over Washington and Cleveland. The Warriors are dangerous, however they don’t really feel fairly as dangerous as their present file.
29. Minnesota Timberwolves (16-36, Final week — 30th)
Minnesota stopped a 13-game shedding streak by completely annihilating the Clippers. That was a very weird outcome, however it stored the Wolves out of the basement this week.
30. Cleveland Cavaliers (13-40, Final week — 29th)
The Cavs received Andre Drummond for (basically) free and there’s nothing mistaken with that. In truth, it ought to assist Cleveland this season and open some doorways for the summer time. With that stated, the Cavs have misplaced 13 of the final 14 video games. It’s fairly ugly up there.