At this point in the season, it’s safe to say the Boston Celtics are who we think they are.
We conclude as much based on the latest NBA power rankings, in which the C’s held onto their respective positions in NBA.com’s and ESPN’s weekly pecking orders. The Celtics thrived for most of the most recent Monday-to-Monday ranking period, earning impressive wins over the Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans. However, the loss the Celtics suffered Sunday against the New Orleans Pelicans probably prevented them from climbing the rankings.
In ranking the Celtics No. 7 for the second consecutive week, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann notes the stark difference between a sharp-shooting Boston team and one that lays bricks.
“The Celtics don’t rely on jump shots as much as they did last season, but their jump shots were falling (effective field goal of 60.7 percent from outside the paint) over a three-game winning streak that included two games against top-10 defenses (those of the Lakers and Magic) and came with two of their three highest assist totals of the season,” he wrote.
“But it also came with more injuries to their seven-man core. They won in Orlando on Friday without Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Enes Kanter, but the jump-shooting dried up (they shot 8-for-33 from 3-point range) in New Orleans on Sunday. The Celtics are 21-2 when they’ve shot 36 percent or better from 3-point range and 9-13 when they haven’t. Brown returned on Sunday, and Tatum could be back Tuesday for the Celtics’ first of two games in Miami, but Kanter is not on the trip.”
ESPN ranked the Celtics No. 8 for the second consecutive week, and Bobby Marks believes last week’s performances reflect the difference between a healthy Boston and a hurting one.
“Though the week ended with a loss to New Orleans, it was a success overall,” Marks wrote. “Boston went 3-1 and outscored the Lakers, Grizzlies and Magic by a combined 67 points. The win against the Lakers proved that when healthy, the Celtics can compete with any team in the NBA. The loss to New Orleans, however, showed how vulnerable they are when playing short-handed, as both Jayson Tatum and Enes Kanter were injured.”
The Celtics will kick off this ranking period Tuesday in Miami with a highly anticipated matchup with the Heat. ESPN and NBA.com rank Miami just ahead of Boston, so a Celtics win might have positive effects on the next power rankings.
Boston then will spend the rest of the ranking period at home with games against the Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers set for Thursday and Saturday, respectively.