By Nick Adamopoulos –
The Boston Celtics came out victorious on Sunday evening with a 134-112 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Jayson Tatum scored 34 points to go along with 5 rebounds and 6 assists. He was supported by a strong performance from Jaylen Brown (35/10/2) and Robert Williams (13/10). With the Phoenix Suns victory over the Chicago Bulls, the Celtics awoke today tied for first place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
The Celtics played a complete game against the Timberwolves. This was an important game for the Celtics as it allowed for some payback for an earlier loss in the season, where the Celtics may have played one of their worst games of the season. The Celtics have now won six consecutive games, with five of those wins coming by a minimum of twenty points. Unfortunately, the win did come at a cost, as Robert Williams left the game early. The Celtics diagnosed Williams with a left knee sprain and was in a lot of pain following the game according to coach Ime Udoka. Fans and the organization both will await to see how long the knee injury hinders the star center.
The team has seven games left in the regular season and can control its fate concerning playoff seeding. Celtics play the Miami Heat on Wednesday evening, with both teams tied for first place in the East. Celtics also finish the year with away games at Chicago and Milwaukee. With games against three of the top teams in the East, the Celtics can end the season on top of the East and guarantee home court advantage for the playoffs.
The turnaround since January has catapulted the Celtics from a potential play-in game team to the top of the standings. Jayson Tatum continues his torrid stretch which has further cemented himself as a top tier talent in the league. Brown and Tatum have continued to gel together and are now complementing one another’s game. Marcus Smart has shown his typical defensive ability, and many believe has a reasonable argument as to why he should be considered Defensive Player of the Year. Not only have Smart, Brown, Williams and Tatum been able to dominate over the last two months, but the Celtics bench continues to hold its own. Payton Pritchard, Derrick White, and Grant Williams have allowed the Celtics the opportunity to expand its bench depth with both scoring and defensive help.
Seven games over the next two weeks will dictate where the Celtics finish in the Eastern Conference. While the top seed is not guaranteed, the team has put the rest of the league on notice. The Celtics are contenders, the Celtics are one of the league’s hottest teams, and the Celtics core of star players are ready to make a push for playoff success. Fans should be ready for an exciting ride as they keep an eye on how the standings change night to night.