If the Boston Celtics weren’t a threat to the rest of the NBA already, Thursday’s double-overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers on national television changed that.
The 141-133 victory over superstar Kawhi Leonard and Co. improved the Celtics to an 8-4 record against the top-four seeded teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences. Halfway through the season, the NBA title appears there for the taking.
Boston sits third in Eastern Conference standings, where they’re 5-2 against the other top four teams.
They’ve split their two matchups with the first-place Milwaukee Bucks, and the Celtics took two of three from the reigning-champion Toronto Raptors. Three games behind Boston at fourth in the East, the Miami Heat have dropped both games against the Celtics.
The sample size isn’t as large against the top teams in the West, where Boston is 3-2 against conference leaders, but the Celtics smoked the first-seeded Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 20 in their only meeting.
Against the second-place Denver Nuggets, the Celtics are 1-1. They also split two games with the Clippers, with both contests going beyond regulation.
Of course, the Clippers were without star Paul George, who exited Thursday game early, but similarly, Boston was without Jaylen Brown and has struggled to roll out a full-strength lineup all season.
The Celtics haven’t faced the fourth-place Utah Jazz yet but will see them on Feb. 26, right after a rematch with the Lakers on Feb. 23.
Boston’s defensive rating (105.7) is the third-best of any team in the league and its has a top-five offense (112.5) that has allowed it to win eight of their last nine games.
With the first half of the season in the books, one thing is for sure. Boston has a lot to feel good about as it enters the All-Star break.