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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

OPINION: The Boston Celtics are the hottest team in basketball

Julia Fusco

After starting the season a mediocre 18-21, the Celtics looked like a different team than the one just two years ago who made three of the last four Eastern Conference Finals appearances.

Boston had just squandered a 25 point lead against divisional foe, the New York Knicks, at Madison Square Garden as RJ Barrett sank a deep buzzer beater three and former Celtic Evan Fournier scored a career high 41 points, leaving Boston left to wonder: can this team win a title together?

First year coach Ime Udoka’s post-game comments that early January night left Celtics fans displeased, yet it may have been the wake up call the team needed.

“It’s a lack of mental toughness to fight through those adverse times,” Udoka said. “It’s across the board. It’s a turnover here, a bad shot here, a missed defensive assignment here, and several missed rebounds tonight.” 

Following that dreadful night in Manhattan, Boston started piecing some wins together, finishing out the month of January with 10 wins in16 games.

Since the start of February, Boston has a record of 22-5 as they have been dismantling teams on the hardwood.

Led on the defensive end by defensive player of the Year candidates Marcus Smart and Robert Williams, the Celtics have managed to become the number one ranked defense in the NBA. 

Even opposing teams coaches like Brooklyn head coach Steve Nash are acknowledging the effects of the Celtic’s stifling defense.

“They’re playing incredible basketball,” Nash told reporters. “They’re far and away the best defensive team in 2022.”

Though the Celtics success is primarily due to the fact that they are the best defensive team in the league, their offense isn’t lacking either.

On offense, Boston is led by its two young superstars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who are averaging 26.8 and 23.6 points, respectively.

Tatum in particular has stepped up his game to a whole new level during the Celtics incredible run and has cemented himself as one of the top players in the league and potential MVP candidate at only the age of 24.

Tatum has tied Celtics legend Larry Bird for most 50 point games in the teams history with five, all coming since April of 2021.

On the team’s historic run, they have not just beaten teams: they have destroyed them. Boston has beaten teams like Brooklyn by 35, Philadelphia by 48 and Sacramento by 53.

A lot of the team’s success is credited by Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens. Stevens, who transitioned into his new role in June after serving as the Celtics head coach for eight seasons, has shown he is not afraid to make moves.

Since June, he has traded a surplus of popular names like Kemba Walker, Dennis Schroder and Josh Richardson while bringing on key contributors like Al Horford, Derrick White and Daniel Theis.

Moves like these have allowed the Celtics to have salary cap flexibility for future seasons while staying competitive and becoming a defensive juggernaut.

Though the team has shown they are a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference, they are not perfect.

Boston has recently lost their starting center and defensive Player of the Year candidate Robert Williams to a torn meniscus, though reports indicate he may be back in time for the playoffs.

The Celtics also have to find a way to get newcomer Derrick White back on track on the offensive end. Though White has been known for his defense throughout his time in San Antonio and now Boston, he has struggled offensively.

Since joining Boston, White is shooting a career low 39.7% from the field and only 28.6% from three point range.

Boston’s problems are minuscule compared to what’s working for them right now on the court and the team is in prime position to make some noise in the playoffs this season.

The team currently sits at number two in the eastern conference standings behind the Miami Heat and would be primed to play the winner between Atlanta and Cleveland if the standings hold true.

Follow Nick on Twitter @NFrieburger

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About the Contributors
Nick Frieburger, Sports Editor | he/him
Nick is a senior journalism major at Suffolk University and is originally from Kingston, Mass. He is extremely passionate about Boston sports but has a specific love for the Celtics. His biggest claim to fame is watching every Celtics game since 2012. In his free time, he can be found relaxing and watching basketball or football while listening to music.
Follow Nick on Twitter @NFrieburger
Julia Fusco, Graphics Editor | she/her
Julia is a senior from South Hamilton, Mass. majoring in media & film at Suffolk University. Julia is part of four student organizations and counting and is on the E-Board for three of them. When she isn't working at the Suffolk gym or in class, you can often find her taking time to engage in her hobbies, which includes photoshoots with her friends, graphic designing, dancing and grabbing some boba to go!

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OPINION: The Boston Celtics are the hottest team in basketball