A Look At The Celtics: 10 Games In
Here's a few thoughts on the first eighth of the team's season:
Slow Out Of The Gate- After an opening night thwarting of the bottom-feeding Philadelphia 76ers, the Celtics struggled to find a rhythm and late game scoring as they dropped three games in a row. Though the losses were to strong competition, including the San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers, it looked as though the youthful C's were struggling to find ways to separate late in games.
On A Run- Since slipping to 1-3 the Celtics have seemed to right the ship for now and have won five of their last six games, including three in a row. The three straight wins have been especially impressive as the team has knocked off top competition with relative ease. The Celtics have beaten the Atlanta Hawks, Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets by an average of just under 15 points a game.
Road Sweet Road- In four games away from the TD Garden this season, the Celtics are 3-1. Though it's a small sample size, it's encouraging to see the team excel on the road. Continuing success on the road will be important as the season moves on. In the postseason, teams must win away from home.
Isaiah Leading The Way- Guard Isaiah Thomas, who's been the team's leading scorer since he was dealt to the club midway through last season, has continued his Boston successes early on in the season. Thomas has averaged a team high 21 points and 6.3 assists per game, as he's helped the team pile up a 102.5 points per game average.
Getting Smart Healthy- Point guard Marcus Smart missed three games due to a sprained toe. He's had a bit of a slow return with the exception of a 26 point effort in the team's 100-85 win over OKC. If he can stay healthy and continue to get reps, his 11.3 points and 3.4 assists averages should climb. He's an important contributor to the team as scoring isn't always the easiest thing to come by with this team.
Sully's Impact- Third year big man Jared Sullinger got himself into better shape this off season and has managed to stay injury free so far. Sullinger has been a force for the team, in the early going, as he's led the team in rebounds and is averaging double digits in points. His nearly double double averages (10.7 ppg, 8.9 rpg) have proved that he can help add both a scoring and defensive presence to the club. Staying healthy, like Smart, will be a key for Sullinger, who has dealt with setbacks in the past. Keeping up a dual threat ability could help keep the C's near the top of the Eastern Conference, however.
Go To Guy- While things are looking good for Boston now, some of their losses have been the result of not really having that one big time player that can take over a game late. Thomas has been their best scorer, but in terms of consistently having a big shot guy it just hasn't been there for the club. The team's two losses to the Indiana Pacers, who are right there battling for position in the conference, have come because late in the games the Celtics didn't have a definitely guy to run everything through and the Pacers did. Indiana's Paul George made big time, clutch shots in both games.
Balanced Attack- While Boston's biggest issue might be that they don't have that one big time star, their biggest asset is that they have such a balanced attack. The team truly is 15 guys deep and, on any given night, can get contributions from anyone from Evan Turner to Kelly Olynyk. Guys like Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson have played consistently as of late and have given head coach Brad Stevens a wealth of options to count on for contributions.
Bottom line, the Celtics and their fans should be proud of the 6-4 start. The future looks bright for this team and the fact that they can only get better as the season goes on is a great sign. It's not too crazy to think they could wind up in the top four of the Eastern Conference to end the regular season.