The Celtics continue their tear through the NBA with their eleventh straight win adding to their league best 11-2 record. An 11-2 start (4-0 against the West) is impressive in its own right, but what is most impressive is how they are getting those wins.
The Celtics are a young team. The average player’s age is 24. They are also young in terms of player’s years with the organization as the majority of the guys are in their first year with the team. Despite their lack of age and time together, the Celtics find a way to win games no matter the hurdle.
The C’s managed to adjust quickly to the loss of Gordon Hayward early in the season. They started the season off without Forward Marcus Morris who is finally playing. They adjusted to the multi game loss of big man Al Horford winning both. Now they were able to pull out a come from behind win without their PPG leader and star Kyrie Irving who left after a hit to the face. They are getting it done by a combination of great defense and maximizing their young talent.
The Celtics have an NBA best defensive rating of 94.8. They are also in the top 5 in several other categories including: Defensive Rebounds, Defensive Rebound %, Opponent’s Points off Turnovers and Opponent’s Second Chance Points. While Kyrie is often a criticized for his inability to play D, he is currently having his career best for DEFRTG.
The concentration on great defending isn’t a surprise from Brad Stevens’ squad. What is surprising people is how much he is getting out of his young players and role players.
Shane Larkin is with his fourth team in as many years; he averages under 6 PPG. Friday night he led the team in scoring, alongside rookie Jayson Tatum, with 16 points in just 17 minutes. Marcus Morris added 14 points and 7 rebounds in just his fourth game with the team. Jaylen Brown, another young player, contributed 10 points. Playing an increased role for the missing Kyrie, Terry Rozier added 15 PT and 7 REB.
The C’s trailed 76-64 at the end of the third and didn’t take the lead until there was less than 5 minutes to go. The bend-don’t-break mindset of this young squad is what has led them to the best record in basketball. If they can continue to have players rise to the occasion, it is anyone’s guess as to when they finally lose another game.
Author: Jacob McAlpine (@JacobSMcAlpine)