The All-Star break kicks off this weekend which means the unofficial first half of the 2015-2016 NBA season has come to close. It’s a been a good one for the Celtics, who continue to just keep getting better and better under third year coach Brad Stevens. The Celtics were 19-35 at the All-Star break in 2014 during Brad Stevens first year as head coach. Last year, the Celtics were 20-31 at the break. Now the Celtics are 32-23 and have risen all the way to 3rd place in the Eastern Conference.
A large part of the Celtics success season is due to the play of All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas, who was acquired at the trade deadline last year and sparked the Celtics to a playoff berth. Thomas is averaging 21.5 PPG, which ranks 12th in the NBA, in addition to 3 RPG, 6.6 APG, and 1.1 SPG while playing in all 55 games this year and starting 52 of them. Thomas’ performance earned him his first career All-Star nod as an Eastern Conference reserve and the first Celtics All-Star since the Big 3 era in 2013.
Isaiah Thomas isn’t the only reason for the Celtics success. In fact, what makes the Celtics so good this year is a balanced attack at every position on the offensive and defensive side. Players like Jae Crowder, Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Evan Turner, Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, and Jonas Jerebko have all contributed significant minutes on a nightly basis to help this team win. As a team, the Celtics currently rank 4th in the NBA scoring 105.7 points per game, 7th in rebounds per game, 5th in assists per game, 2nd in steals per game, and 5th in free throw percentage. They also rank 4th in the NBA in opponent field goal percentage and are tied for first in turnovers forced per game. It is this type of balance that has helped the Celtics win 10 of their last 12 and defeat top tier teams like Cleveland, Oklahoma City, and the Clippers, and also taking Golden State to double overtime.
The Celtics will look to continue their path to the playoffs when they resume play in Utah on Friday, February 19th. They’ve been a fun to team watch all season, and if they stay healthy it will be exciting to see how far this team can go in the playoffs. With several draft picks and a ton of assets in stock, it will also be interesting to see which moves the Celtics will make with the trade deadline looming.