Charles Krumsiek ‘20
Note: All stats and records are updated as of Sunday, Nov. 17.
The Celtics’ league-leading ten-game win streak ended last Sunday after Marcus Smart’s buzzerbeater rolled off the rim in Sacramento. It was the Celtics’ first loss since their opener against Philidelphia and in the meantime, they racked up wins to compile the NBA’s best record. While they have had a very generous schedule to begin the 2019-2020 campaign, this has been the Celtics’ best start since 2008 and they have still played some competitive teams including Milwaukee, Toronto, and Dallas.
The Kings game looks like it should have been winnable, as Sacramento was missing De’Aaron Fox, but Buddy Hield’s incredible all-around game put it just out of reach. The Celtics sorely missed Gordon Hayward on both ends of the ball, as they watched Hield explode for 35 points and struggled to get their offense going in the first quarter. Led by Jaylen Brown’s 18 points, the Cs led a balanced approach to the offense and the Celtics continued sharing the ball as they had found success with in earlier games. Poor shooting performances from Tatum, Smart, and Kemba Walker made this a game that the Celtics would be hard-pressed to win. Though they did make an impressive comeback attempt, the 2-for-16 shooting night from Smart was made worse by his late miss that would have won the game, as his floater hung on the rim for what seemed like minutes, but eventually rimmed out.
It does seem that the Celtics’ schedule has been the MVP for the early part of the season so far. Playing bottom-dwellers like New York, Charlotte, and Washington multiple times during this stretch have helped boost Boston’s record, but just last year, these games were far from easy wins from the Celtics. Winning games that you should be winning and taking care of business is always an encouraging sign, and that is what the Celtics have shown so far this season. They sit comfortably atop the Eastern Conference and will be tested during this five-game road trip out West. They play three teams that appear to be in early playoff contention, including the LA Clippers and Denver, both of which have loaded offenses and will be a major test for the Celtics’ defensive unit. They face a major test in Phoenix as the Suns appear to have finally found their way with a strong start to their season, sitting at 7-3 with some impressive wins over Philadelphia and the Clippers so far. One of the biggest questions going into this game will be about how the Celtics contain Devin Booker. After watching fellow shooting guard Buddy Hield’s dominant offensive performance, the Celtics will need to change things before they face off with Booker.
The win streak put the Celtics in a great position moving forward, with wins over the struggling Sixers and the formidable Bucks showing that Boston will be right there with its fellow Eastern Conference contenders. The chemistry this early Celtics team has shown has been remarkable, particularly considering the roster changes and new additions to the team. This is a welcome development after last year’s team fractured down the stretch and never felt like they were never together. Hopefully the team can make a statement in the West and go at least .500 during this road trip.