With the #2 seed all locked up, the Celtics didn’t have a lot to play for Friday evening. They have been internet hosting the Raptors for a second straight sport with out Jaylen Brown, Marcus Sensible, and Malcolm Brogdon. The rest of the common season was all however a formality. Nothing was on the road. Jayson Tatum performed solely within the first half. And the Celtics gained in blowout style anyway.
“We had no cause to be aggressive and play the way in which we did aside from it was the best factor to do,” head coach Joe Mazzulla mentioned after a 121-102 blowout of Toronto the place his crew was main by as many as 36 factors within the first half.
Sure, if not for some dizzy spells in December and one other proper after the All-Star break, Boston ought to have been the #1 seed in all the league and an iconic 60-game winner. However alas, whether or not it was the monotony of the common season or impatience for a second likelihood to finish unfinished enterprise after their Finals run got here up brief final July, these are our Celtics. They’re fairly rattling good and taking part in their finest basketball of the season.
“Expertise is the very best instructor. This group, we’ve been by means of alot over these final two years. We achieved so much and we failed collectively,” Tatum mentioned after scoring 21 factors in twenty first half minutes and changing into the primary Celtic to common 30+ factors per sport in a single season.
“Basically, we labored all offseason, preseason and had an incredible common season. To get up to now, to get again to the playoffs, to get one other alternative, one other shot. That is the second that — not been ready for — however working for.”
Bear in mind when the Celtics had the very best begin to the season? And folks mentioned ‘it is not the way you begin, it is the way you end’… pic.twitter.com/qvszIst2wU
— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) April 8, 2023
When you consider in momentum, this could possibly be a greater time for the playoffs to come back. They’ll have to attend for Tuesday to seek out out who they’ll meet within the first spherical. It’ll both be the Miami Warmth or the Atlanta Hawks on the town subsequent weekend they usually’ll be going through a Celtics crew on the peak of their powers.
It was unrealistic to anticipate the Celtics to keep up their scorching begin. By the primary twenty-two video games in October and November, they boasted a blistering 121.5 offensive ranking and taking pictures 40.8% from behind the arc.
However over the course of the 82-game common season, water discovered its stage on that facet of the ball and as a substitute of catching hearth on offense, Boston regained their defensive id that made them so powerful on the flip of the brand new 12 months final season.
By March and April, they’re permitting simply 108.7 factors per 100 possessions over nineteen video games. And if the season actually did finish immediately, they’d end the 12 months with the second finest offense and second finest protection within the NBA, good for first in internet ranking.
“I don’t suppose we actually had that many ups and downs this 12 months. I imply, we gained 70% of our video games,” Mazzulla mentioned.
The Toronto Raptors got here into city with a chance to maneuver up within the standings and doubtlessly face the Celtics within the postseason; beat Boston on their dwelling ground twice would have despatched a convincing message to a contending top-seed. As an alternative, a convincing two-game sweep extinguished these hopes and extra so massive image, put all the league on discover.