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The Boston Celtics are an American professional basketball team based in Boston. The Celtics compete in the National Basketball Association as a member of the league’s Eastern Conference Atlantic Division.
Boston climbing up the Eastern Conference standings
With five games left before the All-Star break, the Celtics have rattled off a 5-game winning streak. Buoyed by a healthy roster, much stronger lead guard play by Marcus Smart, and cleaner rotations by rookie head coach Ime Udoka, Boston is looking more like the team the Garden faithful had envisioned heading into this season. Their style of play even fits the city well; the C’s the best defensive rating in the league since the start of the calendar year. However, for Boston to even think about legitimate contention this year, they need to continue to consistently deliver these strong showings. After all, they’re not the only team that’s surging.
The Raptors, currently in possession of sixth place in the East, are on a five-game winning streak of their own. Atlanta is 7-3 in their last ten games. Add in the feisty young Hornets and the star-studded Nets, and Boston finds itself in the middle of a pile of teams all scratching and clawing to avoid the play-in. As the Big Ticket himself would say, the next few weeks look to be a bar fight between the members of the Eastern Conference’s middle class.
Truth be told, I like our chances.
The Nets won’t have Kevin Durant back until after the break, at the earliest, to say nothing of the much-discussed Kyrie situation. They’re already on an 8-game losing streak, and may not have the horses to turn things around without their best player. Charlotte is undeniably talented and entertaining, but they have a negative point differential and suspect defense and rebounding. After winning seven in a row, Atlanta came back to Earth by going 1-3 in their last four games, including two key losses to the Raptors. Speaking of, Toronto has the fourth-worst true-shooting percentage in the league over the last 15 games.
That doesn’t mean that moving up past these teams will be easy, of course. Durant is expected to come back this season. Charlotte’s defense and rebounding have been much better in the last dozen games. Atlanta has proven that they can flip the switch in the second half of the year. Toronto has a one of the most tenacious and well-coached teams in the league.
To rise to their potential, the Celtics need to continue their recent strong play. This season has been such a roller coaster of inconsistency, with each glorious high followed by an absolute dud or two. The way in which we’ve strung together these wins has been very encouraging, though. Better ball movement and cutting, more cohesive and complimentary lineup choices, and what appears to be positive steps towards better leadership from the Celtics’ best players are a balm for some of fans’ most common frustrations. It doesn’t look like Boston’s gotten lucky – Jayson Tatum hasn’t even gone on his yearly hot shooting streak yet – it looks like they’ve figured things out.
Celtics reportedly have received multiple offers for Dennis Schroder ahead of the trade deadline
If the Celtics want to move backup point guard Dennis Schröder before Thursday’s trade deadline, it appears that they have a couple of options.
The Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks have made offers for Schröder that are “on the table,” The Action Network’s Matt Moore reported Sunday.
Boston’s goal for the trade deadline is to clear salary in order to get under the luxury tax, Moore added. Moving Schröder would be an easy way to do that. He’s making $5.9 million on his one-year contract this season and the Celtics are roughly $2.8 million over the luxury tax. That number can decrease to around $900,000 if Jaylen Brown isn’t named an injury replacement for the All-Star Game, according to NBA salary cap expert Keith Smith. If the Celtics remain over the luxury tax this season, they’ll be subjected to repeat penalties if they’re over the luxury tax in future seasons.
On Thursday, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported that the Celtics and Bulls discussed a deal that would give Schröder to Chicago and Boston would get Troy Brown Jr. and a second-round pick. Brown Jr., a backup small forward, is averaging 4.8 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.
It hasn’t been reported what the Bucks are offering in a trade for Schröder. Donte DiVincenzo, George Hill, Rodney Hill, Semi Ojeleye, Jordan Nwora, and Wesley Matthews are all players that could make sense for the Celtics in a Schröder swap, with all of them being on smaller salaries.
The Bulls and Bucks are just two of several teams with a speculated interest in Schröder. The Cavaliers could use the $9 million disabled player exception they got for point Ricky Rubio, who is out for the season with a torn ACL, to acquire Schröder, league executives told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. The Celtics reportedly offered Schröder to the Suns for backup center Jalen Smith.
Boston Celtics trade rumors 2022: Avoiding luxury tax a ‘priority’ for team heading into deadline
Boston’s front office will have at least one directive heading into the trade deadline on Thursday according to one report: Get under the luxury tax. Matt Moore of the Action Network reported on Sunday that a priority for Boston this week is getting below the $136 million luxury tax threshold.
The Celtics currently sit about $2.7 million over the tax after they traded away Juancho Hernangomez to the San Antonio Spurs last month as part of a three-team deal. However, that $2.7 million number may actually be smaller than anticipated after Jaylen Brown failed to make the All-Star game this week. The 25-year-old wing has a $1.9 million incentive for an All-Star appearance so assuming the wing is not selected as an injury replacement this week (seems unlikely), Boston will only have to clear about another $800,00 to get under the cap.
Boston has a number of different ways to do that ahead of the trade deadline. They could simply move a player or player(s) for one(s) making a lesser salary of around $1 million, enabling Boston to dip below the tax line. An even simpler path would be for Boston to move a low-cost player at the end of the team’s bench (Bruno Fernando, Enes Freedom, Bol Bol, PJ Dozier) to a team with an open roster spot with the Celtics also sending said team some cash for taking him in the deal.
Boston Celtics sweep Florida again, defeat Orlando Magic, 116-83
It wasn’t the hottest night of the season in a scoring sense, but the Boston Celtics nonetheless handled their business on Sunday night against the Orlando Magic. The Celtics connected on just 28% of their three-point attempts, while Jayson Tatum struggled through a 6-of-18 shooting night. Picking up the slack were Jaylen Brown and Dennis Schröder, who combined for 48 points.
But it was Boston’s defense that once again guided them to victory. The Magic shot just 36% from the field, including 5-of-25 from three-point range, and the Celtics walked away with the 33-point victory, pushing their win streak to five games and completing their second consecutive sweep of Florida basketball teams.
The sparse scoring was evident from the outset, as both teams laid enough bricks to build the foundation of a house in the first quarter. The Celtics’ lack of shooting reared its head from the get-go, as they missed their first six threes and finished 1-of-13 from deep through one quarter. Thankfully, the stout defense that has powered the 11-4 record across their last 15 games held firm, holding the Magic to just five made baskets, and the Celtics led 21-15 entering the second quarter.
NBA Power Rankings: Unstoppable Suns stay No. 1; Nets plummeting without Kevin Durant; Celtics on the rise
Remember that annoying genius kid in 10th-grade algebra class who always ruined the curve? That’s the Phoenix Suns right now. At this point in the season, the Suns, riding an 11-game winning streak, are so far ahead of the rest of the field that calling them No. 1 doesn’t even seem quite adequate.
The Golden State Warriors, second in this week’s rankings, have a seven-game wining streak of their own, and they still didn’t warrant much consideration for the top spot — that’s how good the Suns have been. Of course, things change very quickly in the NBA. Just ask the Brooklyn Nets, who were the week’s biggest faller, dropping six spots to No. 17 amid a six-game losing streak sans All-Star captain Kevin Durant.
On the other side of the coin were the Toronto Raptors, who jumped four spots to No. 14, powered by three impressive victories, including a triple-overtime marathon. The Boston Celtics also moved up this week, and they now sit just outside the top 10 as they slowly ascend the crowded Eastern Conference standings.
Here are this week’s NBA Power Rankings with the trade deadline, and along with it the potential for major shake-ups, just a week away.