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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Celtics turn it around heading into the second half of the season

The+logo+of+the+Boston+Celtics.

The logo of the Boston Celtics.

On Jan. 28, the Boston Celtics sat at a .500 record after a 10892 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. After a frustrating, up-and-down 2020-21 season where they lost to Brooklyn in five games in the first round, the Celtics did not find any reprieve in the first half of 2021-22. They had continued to struggle to close out tight games, losing several heartbreakers at the buzzer. However, beginning with a win in New Orleans on Jan. 29, the Celtics looked like they began to figure something out. They would then go on to rip off nine consecutive wins, many of them in dominant fashion, culminating with a 13587 dismantling of the 76ers in Philadelphia on Feb. 15. The streak would end in disappointing fashion the next night when the Celtics lost at home to the lowly Detroit Pistons. Still, one has to wonder if first-year head coach Ime Udoka had activated something hidden within his squad. But what were some of the biggest reasons the Celtics were able to turn their season around, and could it provide hope that this team can make a deep playoff run? Perhaps, if some things that were going well towards the end of the first half continue to go well in the second half.
One of newly minted general manager Brad Stevens’ first big moves at the head of the front office was to trade guards Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford and a first-round pick to San Antonio, to acquire guard Derrick White, known for his shooting and defense. White was averaging 14.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists with San Antonio heading into the trade deadline. Stevens, knowing his team needed more scoring, added White to the mix, and so far, the results have been impressive. In his four games with the Celtics, White, despite meager shooting numbers, has still been an impact player, as he has a +24.8 net rating in Boston thus far.
Another factor in the Celtics’ resurgence has been the emergence of big man Robert Williams as one of the best low-post players in the league. The man dubbed “Timelord” has been superb at both ends of the floor, averaging 10 points per game on almost 73 percent shooting from the field, almost 10 rebounds per game, as well as a combined three steals and blocks. Williams can outmuscle the opposition for dunks and put backs on the offensive end, and shut them down on the defensive end, as over the last 10 games, opponents are only shooting 36 percent on him as the primary defender. Williams continues to impress and elevate his team to new highs on a nightly basis.
In addition to Williams, the Celtics as a whole have become one of the best defensive teams in the league. They are currently second in the entire NBA in defensive ratingpoints allowed per 100 possessionsbehind only Golden State. The Celtics have held opponents to the lowest field goal percentage of any team in the league at .429. A big part of their defensive success is not only the aforementioned Williams, but also the recently re-acquired Al Horford in his second stint in Boston, as well as TD Garden fan favorite Marcus Smart and rotation player Grant Williams, among others.
And of course, the main reason the Celtics are surging right now is the man who wears number zero, Jayson Tatum. After a slow start to the year, Tatum has once again been among the league’s best players, averaging over 25 points per game, 8.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists, and was a +28.4 per 100 possessions during the win streak. If Tatum and the others continue their recent hot streaks, the Celtics have as good a chance as anyone else to play deep into the spring.

About the Contributor
Jack Sherman, Sports Writer