Right now, the Boston Celtics are arguably the hottest team in the NBA following its victory over the Pistons to collect their sixth straight victory. Against the Denver Nuggets, Boston accumulated the highest offensive efficiency rating in a single game of any team so far this season, putting together a jaw-dropping outing of 140.9 points per 100 possessions. As a team, the Celtics are shooting 47.5 percent from beyond the arc, and are top-10 in assists per game in the league, creating quality shots through the movement and precise cuts off the ball.
Last season, it was the offense that was the catalyst to success, and now the offense is leading the charge behind one of the NBA’s MVP frontrunners. It is not just that this offense is ripping apart teams in the half-court with their patience, and awareness, this is something truly special, and the rest of the NBA needs to take cover because Boston is playing with this much pace only 13 games into its mission to return to the Finals.
Following a statement win against a Western Conference contender at the TD Garden the other night, head coach Joe Mazzulla gave his thoughts on his team’s offense, stating:
"“Guys have done a great job trusting each other, making the right play, spacing…The cool thing about offense, and basketball in general to me, is you have to be able to make each other better whether if you have the ball or not. And our guys are bought into making each other better, whether they have the ball or not. I think it’s cool to watch.”"
The Boston Celtics have historic potential
This team has a chance to become one of the most efficient offenses the league has ever seen. The Boston Celtics are netting nearly 120 points per game, and have an offensive rating 3.8 points higher than the next closest team, the Utah Jazz. Boston has shot over 50 percent from the floor in two out of its last four games. The Celtics’ defensive rating is sitting 22nd in the league, almost like Boston does not need to create a lot of stops each night out because the team knows what the end result will be each time down the floor at the other end.
No teams have finished with an offensive rating above 118 at the end of the season over the last 26 years, and while there is going to be a point where Boston does cool down, it is clear that there is still another level for this group to jump to with Robert Williams III still healing from his surgery during the offseason. From Marcus Smart reading the defense to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown making the correct reads down the stretch, Boston is firing on all cylinders.
The schedule coming up only helps the Boston Celtics cause to continue these ludicrous offensive numbers. Five out of the next eight games are against teams that failed to make the postseason last year, and the other three include one against an opposition that has just one road win all year so far. One of the most mind-boggling parts of this offense heading into the middle of November is they are doing it all without forcing themselves on the offensive glass all that much.
Currently, Boston ranks in the bottom three in the NBA in offensive rebounding percentage, meaning most of this damage is being down off the first shot that goes up in the air. Tatum is not just waiting for his turn on the offensive end, trying to play a whole lot of isolation basketball, the MVP candidate is asserting himself in the paint. Even on a poor shooting night this season, Tatum still finds a way to contribute massively on the offensive side of the ball.
In five games this season where Tatum has shot under 30% from the 3-point line, he has still managed to average 27.5 points per game. The combination of Tatum taking his game to a completely different stratosphere and Boston having the second-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the league only has one result at the end of the day. 10 players on the Celtics’ team are shooting over 35 percent from three-point land, and that essentially sums up Boston’s prowess.
It is not just the Boston Celtics shooting contested threes with a hand in their face every time, almost every shot Boston is getting is one that could be classified as quality. Brown, Al Horford, and Malcolm Brogdon missed out on the road trip to Detroit, but that had little to no effect on the Celtics’ continuing their run of form. With the amount of depth Joe Mazzulla has at his disposal, this team has the talent to pick each other up night in and night out. It is only 13 games in, but the Celtics are making a mockery of NBA defenses. The defense will improve with time and the confidence of each player is through the roof at this point in time, this team has an opportunity to not only do something special but something historic.