Boston Celtics Atop the NBA After Week Three

Against all odds, the Boston Celtics hold the best record on the NBA through Week three. They are the only remaining one-loss team in the league and have won seven straight since a season-opening loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Boston Celtics are the NBA’s Best Through Week Three

The Boston Celtics Are Legitimate Contenders

With 74 games still remaining, it is absolutely time to overreact and crown the Celtics 2020 NBA Champions. After all, Boston is on pace to finish the season with an outstanding 81-1 record with an 81-game winning streak.

Snap back to reality, though, and it is clear that the Boston Celtics are, in fact, a very solid team that could be capable of making a run at the Eastern Conference Finals or even the NBA Finals. A lot still needs to go right as the team develops chemistry and faces the grueling nature of an 82-game schedule, but the pieces seem to be there.

Through eight games, the Celtics hold the best record in the NBA at 7-1 overall. All other teams have notched at least two losses in as many (or more) contests, perhaps highlighting the overall parity of the league this season. After several years of the Golden State Warriors‘ dominance, the top of the NBA has finally deflated into a plane of several teams from each conference. Despite what many thought coming into the year, the Boston Celtics absolutely belong in that category.

A Return of the “Hospital” Boston Celtics

In previous years, the Boston Celtics have been synonymous with injuries. This season, the moniker still rings true. After a phenomenal start to the season, star forward Gordon Hayward went down with another injury. He was finally returning to the standard he set for himself as a member of the Utah Jazz as he continued to recover from a gruesome leg injury suffered two years ago. Now, he will miss more time with a broken hand.

However, the Celtics looked fine without Hayward on the floor in the immediate aftermath of the injury. Jaylen Brown stepped up big time against the San Antonio Spurs, putting up 30 points in 32 minutes. Hayward will obviously be missed, but the Celtics are built on depth at the wing. If any team can sustain success after losing arguably their best player, it’s the Celtics.

The Ascension of Jayson Tatum

As a rookie, Jayson Tatum looked like the next Paul Pierce. Then, in his sophomore season, he looked pedestrian at times. Now, with the team virtually rebuilt from a season ago, the Celtics have set the stage for Tatum to shine.

Through eight games, Tatum is averaging 21.3 points per game on 43 percent shooting. He’s also knocking down 44 percent of his three-point attempts while adding 7.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per contest. The most impressive feat, though, is that he’s doing so alongside three other players averaging at least 18.8 points per game.

At just 21 years old, Tatum is still a young player finding his way in the NBA. If he continues to improve at his current rate, he will soon find himself as an Eastern Conference All-Star.

A Quartet of Talent With Glaring Holes

At this point, it is overly obvious that the Celtics have a ton of talent between the point guard and power forward positions. When Hayward is healthy, they can boast four 18-plus point scorers in the starting lineup. Kemba Walker leads the team at 24.5 points per game, with Tatum right behind him with an aforementioned 21.3 per contest. After missing most of the game against the Spurs with the hand injury and only managing 9 points in 15 minutes, Hayward is still averaging 18.9 points on the season. Brown is adding 18.8 points and 6.4 boards per game to round out the “big four”.

However, despite the success of the wings, the Celtics are lacking any interior depth. Newly acquired Enes Kanter is averaging 12 points and 6 rebounds and playing better defense than some expected, but Boston will be outmatched in the paint against several other East contenders. Perhaps future success for the season lies in the hands of Daniel Theis and Robert Williams III, or possibly even fan-favorite Tacko Fall. One of the big men must step up and fill the void for the Celtics, or else a move may need to be made before the trade deadline.

The Last Word on the Boston Celtics

The season is still very young. A season ago, the Houston Rockets looked like a dumpster fire through the first few weeks of the year, and they pushed the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs just months later. The Memphis Grizzlies were atop the NBA early last season before earning the second-overall pick in the draft. There’s still a nearly infinite amount of time left in the NBA season.

However, the Boston Celtics have proved they will be a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference. The post-Kyrie Irving era seems to have picked up right where the pre-Irving era left off. Boston is a team built around spreading the wealth to several really good players instead of giving one superstar the keys to the offense. Now, it feels as if they’ve collected the right assortment of talent to play peak Brad Stevens basketball.

If these early season trends continue, the Celtics will be in the thick of the Eastern Conference race when the postseason rolls around. Through three weeks, they’re the best team the NBA has to offer, and that alone is no easy feat. It does not make them immediate Finals contenders, but perhaps the offseason reactions to the roster turnover were no more than noise and bulletin board material for an up-and-coming Boston team.

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