The Boston Celtics are the hottest team in the NBA.
Before Sunday afternoon’s matinee showdown with the Atlanta Hawks the Celtics already had the league’s longest win streak. They extended it to eight with an impressive comeback performance.
The Celtics were down double-digits for much of the contest — even into the second half — but a defensive turnaround and Jayson Tatum outburst led to the win. Boston allowed just 40 points total in the second half and scored 42 alone in the third quarter. Tatum finished the game with 38 points after scoring just four in the first quarter.
With the win, Boston now sits at 33-25 and is in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics are just 4 1/2 games back of the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat with 34 games remaining.
At one point it seemed like the Celtics were destined for the play-in tournament — or maybe even missing the playoffs entirely — but now that the team is fully healthy they’ve looked like one of the best teams in basketball since the new year and have done it mainly with their defense.
Boston has held teams under 100 points in six of its eight wins on this streak and can gain even more ground Tuesday night when it takes on the new-look Philadelphia 76ers.
With the way the team is playing right now, there is a realistic chance they can move up in the standings by the season’s end and actually make some noise come playoff time.
If there ever was a time to get on the bandwagon, it’s now.