Even Without Hayward, This Celtics Team is Special
Even without Hayward, This Celtics team is special
By Jared Talbot
As of right now the Boston Celtics have the best record in the NBA. I’ll be the first to admit that I did not see that one coming but who really did? This Celtics team lost a huge player and an all-star in Gordon Hayward just 5 minutes into this season. They followed that up with a loss to the Bucks and just two games into the NBA season everybody began to panic.
The pundits were already out talking about how the Celtics “won’t be anything better than an early playoff team” and “won’t have much success after losing him.” How do they respond to all this? They just go out there and win. They win and continue to win until they officially have not lost since that second loss to the Bucks’
Many can argue that this is just blip or a streak of strong play but nothing that will genuinely last but that may not be the case. This team is not only firing on all cylinders on the offensive end, but they now own the best defense in basketball. They guard the three ball better than any team in the league and show off a top 10 defensive rebounding squad as well.
Even with Hayward in the mix, there were two main things that many were concerned about this team entering the season. Playing solid defense after losing several of their best defenders and rebounding after being one of the worst rebounding teams last season. So far though, more then so good.
Aron Baynes has been magnificent down low as both the rim stopper this team desperately needed and a rebounder that can help Horford. Daniel Theis has also been better then advertised down low as well in both categories in his first year in the NBA. The Celtics boast two of the best rebounding guards in the NBA in Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum is averaging seven rebounds a game as well. All of this has combined to take less pressure off of Al Horford which has allowed him to average over 9 rebounds a game so far this year which is a big improvement from last year.
Moving to the defensive side of the ball, this team has been turning heads left and right. When this team lost Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley, many worried that the defense would falter. Yet so far it has been quite the opposite. This team has gotten better on defense. They are top 10 in almost every defensive category and Kyrie Irving is leading the league in steals right now. Of all the unexpected things that has happened with this team so far, that may take the cake. Kyrie has never been known for his defense, yet he has played with more energy than every before.
For this team to have gotten this good, it has taken a true group effort. Nobody expected so many new players to buy into the system so quickly but here they are. Jaylen Brown has more then taken a leap in his second year. Jayson Tatum is well on his way to finishing in the top five for rookie of the year voting, Kyrie Irving is leading offensively and fitting into this pace and space offense perfectly and Al Horford has had a positive +/- in every game so far.