Celtics Turning Heads Amidst Brutal Nov. Schedule

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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CHICAGO – Don't look now, but the Boston Celtics are beginning to turn some heads.

Six games into a brutally competitive November schedule, the Celtics stand at an even 3-3. One could argue that they could easily be 5-1.

A missed free throw cost the Celtics a chance at a win in Dallas and a late turnover prevented them from taking down the Raptors Wednesday night.

Boston has since rattled off two victories in as many days. The latter triumph came Saturday night, in Chicago, against the Bulls, who entered the game with a 5-1 record. And most of the game wasn't even competitive.

Per usual, Saturday's victory was spearheaded by a balanced attack and consistent effort.

Take a look at the box score. Seven Celtics scored in double-figures, led by Evan Turner's 19. Five Celtics grabbed between four and 11 rebounds, led by Kelly Olynyk’s 11. Five Celtics dished out at least four assists, led by Turner’s six. That’s the definition of balance.

“I think we just do a great job of playing together,” said Tyler Zeller, who logged season highs of 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists Saturday night. “We pass the ball, move the ball, and everybody contributes in a lot of different ways. And then defensively we trust each other and just try to get as many stops as possible.”

Stops don’t come easily in the NBA. They take effort. The Celtics have been providing it on a consistent basis this season and we saw that again Saturday night.

The defense was flying around and nearly every 50-50 ball seemed to find its way into Boston’s hands. The Celtics were a step ahead of the Bulls from the opening tip until the final buzzer.

It’s difficult to beat teams that brings balance and effort to the table each and every night. It’s even more difficult to down a team that displays such characteristics while also playing with composure.

Boston has hit a home run in each category of late. It has been rock solid in the clutch. The team’s ability to execute in crunch time has even caught the attention of its head coach, Brad Stevens.

As Stevens said Saturday night, “The poise the last two nights has been very, very encouraging.”

Zeller agrees with his coach, noting that poise is what pushed the team into the winner’s circle in Chicago.

“We just kept our composure and made the plays we needed to make to get the win,” Zeller said. “Kelly had a huge rebound at the end to kind of ice the game, and before that people just made plays.”

The 2013-14 season was marred by Boston’s propensity to make plays that lost games. This season’s team is learning how to make the plays that are necessary to win games.

Not many around the league saw that coming. These Celtics were supposed to fumble their way through November. Instead, they’re coming together to prove their naysayers wrong.

“I think people are taking us lightly,” Olynyk said.

They shouldn’t, and Boston is proving why.

“I think with us,” Olynyk added, “it’s just how well everyone’s playing together and how much of a team we are, pulling together and everyone doing their job. Everyone’s stepping up on different nights.”

This level of balance, effort and poise is beginning to overpower opponents . It’s also beginning to pump confidence into these Celtics, making them believe that they can knock off any team that stands in front of them.

In the words of Turner, “I think we can have a great presence in the East.”

That comment is bound to turn some heads, which is fitting. The Celtics are starting to get pretty good at that.