kyrie irving boston celticsAfter starting the season 0-2 the Boston Celtics (15-2) are now on a 15-game winning streak, thanks to their 110-99 win over the Atlanta Hawks (3-13).

The Celtics currently own the best record in the NBA and lead the East by five games, in front of their division rival Toronto Raptors (11-5).

With five players averaging double figures and two more at nine points per game, the Celtics balanced attack thrives on a formula that keeps everyone involved with plenty of energy on the defensive end, where they are holding teams to the best overall defensive rating in six NBA seasons.

Kyrie Irving’s numbers have dropped a little, but that’s because he’s a different type of player this season. In the past, with the Cavaliers, once he decided to attack the basket he would focus on scoring instead of looking to pass the ball to open teammates.

Last year that usually led to turnovers or difficult and off-balance shots, but this year Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has him believing in the quick ball movement and spacing of the Celtics.

As a result, Irving has become a harder player to guard because he’s almost always looking for the pass and keeps the defense constantly guessing what he will do next.

While in Cleveland he showed glimpses of his passing ability, he didn’t make use of it as often as he does now. He is now routinely finding new and outstanding ways to pass the ball and all his teammates are reaping the rewards.

His defense has also been a pleasant surprise as he’s showing much more energy on this end of the floor and he’s suddenly making a lot of good plays to stop the offense.

Now that he’s no longer playing along Lebron he’s giving the Celtics a lot more on defense and playing a is a big factor to the Celtics stellar defensive rating. In fact, during the streak, their net rating of +9.4 ranks them third in the league.

Another huge factor is the Celtics three-point defense which is third in the league in percentage and fourth in three points allowed per game.

All this, combined with the plays that Stevens draws up, which have plenty of motion and flow, allows them to move the ball until they find an open spot to shoot from.

Stevens has a lot of tricks in his bag and the Celtics can count on several of them to score some key points when they need them in clutch moments of the game.

Although this streak may end sooner than later because Boston will play four games on the road this week, the Celtics have shown us that they can spread the ball around and lock their opponents down with their length, quickness, and pressure. This has proven to allow them to overcome any kind of opponent during the regular season.

Although they should be considered the favorite to represent the East in the NBA Finals they will need to keep improving to convince everyone that they can defeat a team like the defending champion Golden State Warriors in a seven-game series.




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