4 Celtics who are exceeding expectations, 2 underperforming at the All-Star break

These Celtics over or underperformed their expectations before the All-Star break. 
Boston Celtics, Jrue Holiday, Jayson Tatum
Boston Celtics, Jrue Holiday, Jayson Tatum / Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
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The Boston Celtics enter the All-Star break with the best record in the NBA and a six-game advantage over the Cavaliers for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. They should have homecourt in the playoffs, but Boston won’t be defined by the regular season. It is championship or bust for the Celtics. They are among the title favorites, but Boston must avoid another playoff heartbreak.

The Celtics are arguably the most talented team in the NBA. They traded for Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday to create an elite top-six featuring five All-Stars and one of the best perimeter defenders in the world. The group has won 43 of their first 55 games together and figures to be a postseason force.

Boston entered the season with massive expectations, but how did they perform before the All-Star break? Here are six players who have done the unexpected thus far.

Exceeding expectations: Sam Hauser

The Celtics added several wings this offseason in hopes of finding a trusted option or two to play behind Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. They signed Oshae Brissett, Svi Mykhailiuk, Dalano Banton, and Lamar Stevens, but none of them have stuck in the rotation. Boston drafted Jordan Walsh in the second round and his 33 total minutes played prove he is not ready. The Celtics had the option they were looking for already on their roster.

Hauser has proved to be an elite shooter and necessary bench option. He is averaging 8.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.0 assist in 21.5 minutes per game while shooting 41.2 percent from 3-point range. The 6’8 forward averages the seventh-most minutes per game on the Celtics and will be a key floor-spacer in the playoffs.

Head coach Joe Mazzulla will play the starters more in the postseason, but Sam Hauser should still get 15 minutes per game. Can he make shots and defend well enough to stick in the rotation? The 26-year-old has taken a step forward this season, and it should give the franchise confidence in his ability. Sam Hauser stepping up forced another wing to make the underperforming list.