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Three Crucial Insights About The Boston Celtics Thus Far

With about a fifth of the 2023-2024 regular season completed, Beantown barely sits at number one in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics look impressive on both ends of the floor but there is still room for improvement. Here are a few positive takeaways Celtics fans can hold their hats on.


The Celtics Still Have The Best Defensive Guard Tandem


The 2023 offseason was a bittersweet one for the Celtics after trading Malcolm Brogdon, Marcus Smart, and Robert Williams III but replacing them with two defensive studs in Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis. Celtics fans seemed to be indifferent to these transactions as they questioned whether the defense would hold up or swelter. Marcus Smart and Robert Williams III were two key defensive and sometimes, offensive players for the team and their 2022 NBA Finals run. The tandem of Derrick White and Marcus Smart put fear into 29 other NBA backcourts with their physicality, grit, and constant ability to make a play on the ball at any moment`s notice.


So with Smart out and Holiday in as the full-time starter, the Boston Celtics defense is still elite. According to NBA.com, the Celtics are in the top five teams in defensive rating this season. Much of that has to do with the bolstered defensive backcourt of White and Holiday. According to Statmuse.com, Holiday is in the top five list of point guards with the best defensive rating. Amongst those players, Holiday is the only one to average a block.

Regarding totals, Derrick White and Jrue Holiday have similar stats in terms of steals and blocks even though White has missed a few games so far. The two starting guards in Boston are the Celtics' first line of defense which brings optimism to many.


Dynamic Center Play Could Be The Answer


Robert Williams III and Al Horford have been the defensive anchors of the Celtics whether they are starting next to each other or coming off the bench for each other. However, due to health, age, and skillsets, the Celtic`s centers always have struggled to stay healthy, keep up with athletic players, and give their teams a different option instead of a three or a dunk. Fans loved and still do love Robert Williams III.


But now that he is gone, Kristaps Porzingis has taken his place. Last year, Porzingis finished his season with the Washington Wizards as one of the most underrated bigs in the game. Seemingly, he was back to all-star form, something the New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks could not obtain due to a multitude of problems such as play style and health.


In Washington, Porzingis revitalized his career, averaging one of the best seasons of his career in points, blocks, and three-point percentage. Shooting a whopping 38.5 percent on threes with five attempts a game. He is also a master in the post, proving that teams can comfortably trust themselves to give him the ball late down the stretch if they need a bucket. Additionally, Porzingis can score anywhere efficiently on the court, which is not a luxury the Celtics have ever had in the Tatum and Brown era. So far, Porzingis has demonstrated what Robert Williams III did not, dynamicity. In his ability to generate better shots through spacing and availability, Porzingis has seemingly become the Celtic`s center in shining armor.



The Stars Are Shining Bright


The backbones of Boston sports, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as a collective have reached perennial all-star status. Both of them receiving all-star nods for the remainder of the decade is one of the safest bets one can take right now. Some other safe bets include many more Eastern Conference Finals visits and potentially the biggest of them all, the NBA Title.


If the Celtics ever want to reach their peak again, like in 2022 against the Warriors, then the wings need to keep it up. According to NBA.com, Tatum and Brown average almost 50 points together. Out of all 30 teams, Tatum and Brown are the fourth-highest duo to average the most points combined this season behind the Dallas Mavericks, Milwaukee Bucks, and Philadelphia 76ers.


Some other bright spots that coddle Celtics fans are that Tatum is having his most efficient season shooting the ball and is averaging the most rebounds he ever has. As for Brown, all of his stats have slightly dipped. Which is completely fine in understanding and gauging the success of the Celtics this season. The starting lineup added more depth and wiggle room this season with Porzingis and Holiday who are more than serviceable scorers.


With the emergence of Porzingis as another scoring threat, one might expect someone else's stats to dip. This proves advantageous as the Celtics do not have to defer to only Jaylen Brown when no one else can get it going. Additionally, this could land the Celtics three all-stars this season, either Kristaps Porzingis or Derrick White.

 

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