Less than two months ago, the Celtics were in ninth place in the Eastern Conference and just three games above .500.
But things are a lot different today. Suddenly, they are playing like the best team in the East when it means the most — heading into the playoffs. They put a another feather in their basketball cap by dismantling the Jazz on Wednesday.
“That’s crazy, right?” guard/forward Jaylen Brown said. “I feel like this was very prime for us, we just had to put full stretches together. I knew the energy was about to shift. So I’m happy that we’re here now.”
Entering Thursday, the Celtics (46-28) sat in a three-way tie for second place in the conference, just 1.5 games back of the leading Heat.
“As many games as we blew in the first half of the season — it would have been nice to have won some of those games because we would be in first right now,” Brown said. “But everything happens for a reason. We take it one game at a time and we’ll see where we’re at playoff time.”
Boston hosts the Heat on March 30, with big road games against the Bulls (April 6) and the Bucks (April 7) also looming.
Brown and Jayson Tatum each scored 26 points against the Jazz, and those two remain the Celtics’ greatest reasons for hope. But it’s depth and teamwork that’s resulting in the rise.
“Guys are confident, playing free and playing together,” coach Ime Udoka said. “I think we all feel there’s another level we can take it to.”