70°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Boston Celtics are serious contenders

Jayson+Tatum+of+the+Boston+Celtics.
Bianca Oppedisano
Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics. Illustration by Bianca Oppedisano / Mass Media Staff

If you would have told me two months ago that the Boston Celtics were going to be a top four team in the Eastern Conference standings, I would have called you delusional. But the Celtics have played their way to the top portion of the East and have looked like a force as of late. 
For the duration of 2021, the Celtics looked like a team destined for the play-in tournament, and one that could potentially lose in the play-in. Many, including myself, were beginning to wonder if the Celtics’ two young stars, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, should be split up. The Celtics were a mess and it seemed like things were going from bad to worse.
However, in late January, it felt like someone flipped a switch and the Celtics rattled off nine straight wins, all while they were playing as one cohesive unit. On the defensive end, the Celtics have solidified themselves as the second-best team in points allowed, giving up 103.67 points per game—just .02 points behind the Dallas Mavericks. And now, most importantly, both Brown and Tatum look like they can play and win together at an elite level.
A big key for the Celtics’ success over the past few months has been the exceptional play from Tatum. In the month of March, where the Celtics are 61, Tatum has averaged 35.1 points per game while shooting 49.4 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from beyond the arc. These numbers have thrusted Tatum into the MVP conversation. If Tatum had played at this level for the entire duration of the season, he would likely be one of the favorites to win MVP.
Another significant piece to this story is that in the month of March, the Celtics have beaten top tier contenders like the Memphis Grizzlies, the Brooklyn Nets and the Golden State Warriors. Two of those victories were by double digits. This long recent stretch of play has many wondering if the Celtics are serious threats, not only to make it out of the East, but to actually win the NBA championship.
Right now, if you ask me, I will tell you that the Celtics should be the favorite to win the East, and they do have a serious chance to win the championship this year. Back when the Celtics won nine games in a row, we all felt it was a good little streak, but their loss against the lowly Detroit Pistons to end the streak was alarming to many. However, they came out of the all-star break, went 82, and now the Celtics are showing the rest of the league that they are absolutely a threat.
The Celtics have 12 games remaining in the regular season and still have some tough opponents ahead. The top four teams in the Eastern Conference are only separated by four games, and the Celtics can still make a push to the top of the standings in the final stretch. The Celtics’ second to last game against the Milwaukee Bucks could wind up being a battle for playoff positioning as the Bucks are only two games ahead as of right now. Unless the Miami Heat lose a couple games in a row, the top seed in the East would be a tough feat for the Celtics to achieve, but it could become a reality if Boston can take them down on March 30.
If Kevin Garnett’s jersey retirement last week taught these Celtics anything, it would be to fight for every inch on the court and know that “anything is possible!”

About the Contributor
Bianca Oppedisano, Illustrator