How good are the 2009-10 Celtics?
They might be the best team in NBA history.
Of course, it?s too early to tell, but if immortality were based on a 10-day body of work, the Celtics would be the greatest team of all time. Hands down. No questions asked. End of story.
Boston hasn?t just been winning games. They have been embarrassing opponents. Aside from the season opener in Cleveland and the photo finish in Minnesota, the Celtics have been making anybody who crosses their paths look like the Washington Generals.
The numbers through six games don?t lie.
Opponents? shooting percentage: .407
Consecutive games holding teams under 100 points: 6
Points allowed: 81.5 per game
Point differential: +18.3
Margin of victory: 18.3 points
Small sample size or not, those numbers are approaching video game territory. The only difference is that people can hit the reset button on PlayStation.
The Celtics are only going to get better as they get more comfortable playing together. That means trouble — and more potential embarrassment — for everyone else.
For a little perspective, here are the best marks in the aforementioned categories since the NBA was born in 1946 (courtesy of the Boston Herald and NBA.com):
Opponents? shooting percentage
1998-99 San Antonio Spurs: .402
1998-99 New York Knicks: .403
2003-04 San Antonio Spurs: .409
Consecutive games under 100 points
2003-04 Detroit Pistons: 36
2000-01 Knicks: 33
2003-04 Pistons: 30
1998-99 Atlanta Hawks: 83.4
1998-99 Miami Heat: 84.0
2003-04 Detroit Pistons: 84.3
1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers: 12.3
1995-96 Chicago Bulls: 12.2
Margin of victory
1971-72 Lakers: 15.9
1995-96 Bulls: 15.0
1986-87 Lakers: 14.0
1963-64 Celtics: 13.3
1966-67 Sixers: 13.2
1985-86 Celtics: 13.0
You might have heard of some of those teams. Eight took home rings, and two set records that have yet to be broken. The ?72 Lakers won 33 straight games, the longest winning streak in NBA history. And the ?96 Bulls hold the record for most wins in a season with 72.
The Celtics have a long way to go before they are mentioned in the same breath as those teams, but they already have opened eyes in the infancy stages of this 2009-10 campaign.
When it comes to protecting the rack, Boston has been stingier than Scrooge before he saw the ghosts — holding opponents to 89, 59, 90, 87, 74 and 90 points in their first six contests (yes, 59).
They face a big challenge Friday night against the Suns, who score more than George Clooney and are averaging 111.2 points per game, second-best in the NBA. If the Celtics can hold Phoenix under 100, their defense might not let anybody score 100.
NBA titles aren?t won in November, but that is when seeds of greatness are planted.
And so far, the Celtics have the look of champions.