After four consecutive wins, maybe the Boston Celtics can’t be considered as one of the worst teams in the NBA. Avery Bradley was the stand out this time, leading the team to a 120-105 win over the Orlando Magic, bringing forth a sense that Brad Stevens wasn’t hired only to oversee this group of players tanking their way to a high draft pick.
Of course, besides their win over the Miami Heat which came with less than a second on the clock, they haven’t done anything remarkable. Two of their wins have come against the Orlando Magic, so there’s no reason to call the Celtics playoff contenders just yet.
Avery Bradley scored 24 points, leading six Celtics players in double figures. Jeff Green, Kelly Olynyk and Jordan Crawford all scored 16 points, as the Celtics shot 60% from the field and 41.7% from beyond the arc, not really needing a barrage of three to have their way against the Magic, presenting some atrocious defense, unlike what we’ve seen from them this season.
The Celtics’ defense wasn’t as good as always, but it’s forgiven when you score 120 points. They’re 9th in points allowed, giving up 96.4 per game, actually having some of their better defensive players like Vitor Faverani and Gerald Wallace coming off the bench, while Olynyk and Jeff Green provide better scoring choices in the lineup.
Maybe the most surprising of players through these recent wins is Jordan Crawford, the poster-boy for inconsistency throughout his short NBA career. He finished with 16 points and 10 assists on 7-of-12 from the field, and is shooting a shocking 50.7% from the field so far this season.
Who is the point guard? There’s no such thing, not while Rondo isn’t playing and Phil Pressey comes off the bench for short whiles. Avery Bradley is listed as the PG on the lineup before the game, but Crawford is a much better playmaker than him, and this season has finally been adding some intelligence and patience to his decision making, usually too controlled by his raw talent and the wrong use for it.
The Magic had a plan to stop the Celtics, which was leaving Avery Bradley open. However, Bradley was already quite accurate in the win over the Miami Heat, following that up with a 10-of-15 performance, and has shot 50% or better from the field in 3 of the Celtics’ last five games. The moment he becomes a spot up shooter and does less with the ball, leaving that to more capable players, he and the Celtics’ offense becomes much more efficient.
A tougher schedule down the road might teach us a bit more about how good the Boston Celtics really are, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that this team wasn’t distraught about losing their first four games, believing that they’re good enough to make the playoffs this year, even if no one else shares that belief. When Rajon Rondo comes back, maybe he won’t be too dismayed about what’s been done before him after all.
We’ve grown a lot offensively. At the beginning of the year, it was stagnant. Now we’re moving the ball a lot.