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DALLAS – The Golden State Warriors have won 16 consecutive games, any many are now debating whether or not they are the greatest team ever.
Well, that’s what would happen if the Warriors had won 16 straight. But they haven’t. In fact, they’ve only won two straight.
It is the Boston Celtics who have rattled off 16 consecutive wins, yet many still aren’t even convinced that they’re the greatest team in the Eastern Conference, let alone the greatest team ever.
Is it because their leading scorer is averaging only 22.5 points per game?
Is it because they are the sixth-youngest team in the league, according to Real GM?
Is it because five of the 16 wins have been of double-digit, comeback variety?
Maybe it’s because this is everyone’s first look at this new team, and it’s taking some time to understand just how great Boston really is.
Whatever it is that’s motivating pundits to discount the Celtics, it’s an excuse. It’s an excuse to avoid the facts.
Wake up. Give credit where credit is due.
The Boston Celtics – not the Golden State Warriors – are 16-2 and haven’t lost since Oct. 18.
The Boston Celtics are the greatest team in the league.
The funny thing is, the Celtics couldn’t care less about what the pundits think or say. Yes, the C’s see it. Yes, they hear it. And they dismiss it, without a hint of irritation.
Boston knows what it is at the core, and that’s all that matters.
“We have Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, but we don’t have Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson. We aren’t those guys,” said Marcus Smart. “That’s probably why [the public] is saying that (we aren’t great), which makes sense. It’s OK. We are who we are.
“We don’t need those type of guys on our team to be a great team. They’re definitely great players, and every team would love to have them on their team, but when you’ve got a group of guys that’s willing to give it all for the team, that’s what really matters.”
These Celtics are undoubtedly willing to give it all – and then some – for the team.
Just look at Monday’s comeback win over the Dallas Mavericks in overtime. Smart sacrificed his body. Horford sacrificed shots. Reserves sacrificed playing time.
This was all for the greatest good of the team, and in the end, with no complaints, what happened? The same thing that happened at the final buzzer of Boston’s previous 15 games: #CelticsWin.
Jayson Tatum explained, “I think we do a good job of just focusing on us and just trying to take it one game at a time and keep believing in our stuff and our game plan and not worry about anything else.”
Clearly, that mindset is working, and it’s helping the team block out the outside noise.
The longer a winning streak lasts, the more pressure a team feels. At least for normal teams. This Celtics team, however, is not normal.
This team should be playing with pressure on its back, as it attempts to continue its historic run, but instead, it plays pressure-free basketball during the most important moments of each game.
Boston is plus-59 in 38 clutch minutes (the final five minutes of regulation or overtime with the score within five points) during the 16-game streak.
“The way that we look at it,” said Horford of playing pressure-free when the streak is in the air, “it’s not on the line. It’s just one game.
“We’re not getting caught up in all of this streak and everything. For us, we’re trying to play good basketball, and we’re finding ways to win.”
Good basketball? Try great basketball.
Good teams win five, six, maybe seven games in a row. Great teams win 16 in a row, and maybe more.
Wake up, America. Durant, Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green aren’t walking through that door in Celtics green and white, but Irving, Horford, Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and others are.
This crew of Celtics is doing things this year’s Warriors have not been able to do, and this crew of Celtics beat the Warriors.
The Celtics are the greatest team in the NBA right now, so start giving them the respect they deserve.