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Boston Celtics are Playing the Best Basketball in the Atlantic Division Right Now

December 9th, 2013 at 12:30 PM
By Sean Melia

At the start of the season if we told you the Boston Celtics would be in a 41 point blow-out most people would assume the Celtics would be the whipping post. On Sunday the opposite occurred in New York. The New York Knicks looked like they stayed out too late Saturday night, maybe watching college football or maybe doing something else awesome. Needless to say, it was a disastrous outcome for a team that was "back on track."

'Jeff Green' photo (c) 2011, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Now, the Celtics are on a roll. They have won six of their last eight games and three in a row. They have beaten some good teams: Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets. They have taken care of business against the bad teams: New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Charlotte Bobcats. They are avenging earlier losses (Milwaukee, Charlotte) and might have dealt a death blow to the New York Knicks. We're only 22 games into the season and now expectations are beginning to change for this team. 

Andrew Wiggins is almost a swear word in Celtics' vernacular. Tanking is treated like Voldemort, the word shall not be spoken. This team is determined to get better with every passing day, and they are hell-bent on winning the Atlantic Division. After Toronto dealt Rudy Gay last night to the Sacramento Kings, it appears one more contender for that top spot has thrown in the towel.

Right now, the Celtics are the best team in the Atlantic division. That has nothing to do with their record, it has everything to do with the way they are playing on the court. The Philadelphia 76ers started 5-4 and now sit at 7-14. That's a 2-10 run and they are horrendous on the road at 1-8. The Sixers regression after their fast start is no surprise, they were ready to lose a lot of games this season and then Michael Carter-Williams ignited a fire in the team for the first two weeks. Now they are what we thought they would be, a bad basketball team.

So, that leaves us with the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets. The Knicks could be done after yesterday's game. While it was a noon game in those atrocious orange uniforms, it was clear that this team is disinterested in playing for Mike Woodson while also being uninspired by their leader Carmelo Anthony. The only bright spot for the Knicks is that Tyson Chandler might be back within ten days. They're defense will get better and their rotation will return to normal.

The Nets (aka the 2012 Boston Red Sox), are in deep right now. They lost to the Knicks by 24 points last Thursday night, and are 3-7 in their last ten games. Their defense is awful, which is shocking for a Kevin Garnett basketball team. They are 29th, only ahead of the Utah Jazz in defensive rating. Their offensive rating is pretty good, in the top third of the league, just below Boston

The will get healthy, and they will figure out how to play together. The question is how long until that actually happens? The difference between the Celtics and Nets currently is their defensive efficiency (and coaching). The Celtics are ninth in the league right now, allowing 100.7 points per 100 possessions. That's not bad, and it's 7 points better than Brooklyn. Lawrence Frank was supposed to be the defensive master-mind on the Nets coaching staff, and now that he is gone it will be interesting to see how the defense changes, either for better or worse.

As a Celtics fan it might be time to settle into the of winning games. The Knicks and Nets will be the competition for the division, and given their slow starts it could be a dog fight all the way to the end of the season. Wouldn't it be something if the Celtics beat out the Nets for a playoff spot?

Maybe Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were right, the Celtics and Nets are going in opposite directions.

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Tags: Atlantic Division, Basketball, Boston, Boston Celtics, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Garnett, Mike Woodson, NBA, new york knicks, Tyson Chandler

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