Perhaps it was just a blip, after all. You know, the Boston Celtics looking lackluster on offense and struggling to shut up shop on defense. Maybe they were just playing possum. Or looking to conserve energy for the games that lay ahead.
Whatever it was, it appears like the Celtics have their swagger back, as they have now won three straight games and have the Milwaukee Bucks and the first seed in the Eastern Conference firmly in their sights.
“I think we’re getting more and more locked in,” Brogdon said. “You know, I think it’s apparent, I think, when Milwaukee took the number one seed from us, you know, after the break, sort of a shock to us, that we had dropped. Because we had created some separation between us and them. And that’s something we want; we want the one seed. I think this team understands the importance of having home-court advantage in the playoffs. So that’s, that’s something we’re going after.”
However, there has been an undoubted change in Boston’s willingness to attack the rim and a brand new buy-in from the rotation when it comes to paint touches and cutting without the rock.
Defensively, we’re seeing some of the best Celtics basketball of the season. Running a ‘no middle’ scheme where Al Horford or Robert Williams drop a few steps below the level of the screen, and wing defenders dig in unison to close gaps and apply some legitimate on-ball pressure. Boston is switching with purpose again and looking to avoid mismatches by utilizing peel switches while also being fearless in allowing their smalls to get underneath bigs and forcing them away from their preferred spots on the floor.
Of course, the return of Robert Williams has played a significant role in Boston’s return to the mountaintop. Arguably, this is the best version of the springy big man we’ve seen all season, which gives his return somewhat of a double meaning because this is Robert Williams. Not a shell of him, or a lesser version of him, no, the blockasaurus is back in full effect, and you can see teams are figuring out how to attack the rim with him on the court. Sure, he might not be catching lobs at the same clip as last year, but we’re talking about a totally different offensive approach with new principles, and as such, Williams has become more of a connecting hub than he has a straight-up emergency outlet, and that’s perfectly fine.
As such, Williams and Boston’s defense were the first talking points on Monday’s episode of The Green With Envy podcast, where we looked at CelticsBlog Bill Sy’s recent article on Williams and Adam Taylor’s recent breakdown of the rise of the Celtics' intensity.
The work isn’t done, though. The Celtics still have seven regular-season games remaining in their schedule and are two games behind the Bucks, with a monster clash of the two titans scheduled for Thursday, where the NBA gods have done the Celtics a slight favor by placing them in the second half of a back-to-back for Milwaukee (hehe). So, the Green With Envy guys would have been remiss not to look ahead at what’s to come and the potential ramifications of finishing second instead of first in the conference — if there even is any besides homecourt, considering where the Miami Heat are currently languishing.
However, before the Celtics turn their attention toward Milwaukee, they have a game against the Washington Wizards to handle, where a victory would make it four straight and ensure they head into their toughest game of the season so far with the wind at their back and a spring in their step. Don’t worry, though; the guys will have you covered with all of the pre and post-game analysis you could need!