Celtics Wrap Up Winningest February in 40-Plus Years
Even after dropping their final contest of the month Sunday night in Indiana, the Boston Celtics still managed to log their winningest February in more than 40 years.
With a 9-2 record, they tied the best February winning percentage in franchise history, matching the 81.8 percent mark they set in 1980.
Boston was by far the most dominant team in the NBA over the course of the past 28 days, posting a point differential of plus-157. No other team in the league was within 40 points of the Celtics in that category, and no Eastern Conference team was within 70 points.
Boston’s nine wins were decided by an average margin of victory of 19.9 points. It had five double-digit wins, including three victories by 30 or more points with its biggest being a 48-point win over Philadelphia.
Six of Boston’s wins came on the road by an average margin of 26.3 points per game. Five of those came in wire-to-wire fashion, which included a stretch of more than 288 consecutive minutes without trailing.
Sunday night’s loss was Boston’s first defeat away from home in exactly a month. And despite surrendering their most points of the season in a regulation game with a 128-107 loss, the Celtics still ended up as the league’s top defensive team in February by a large margin.
Their defensive rating of 101.4 was more than four points better than the next-best defense, which belonged to the Miami Heat. They allowed opponents to shoot just 40.3 percent from the field, which was three and a half percentage points lower than the next-closest opponent. And they also had the best 3-point defense, limiting opponents to shoot just 31.9 percent from beyond the arc.
The C’s also ranked among the top 10 in offensive rating with a mark of 116.5, which combined with their D-rating, gave them a league-leading net rating of 15.1.
Boston’s surge allowed it to rise from ninth place in the East all the way up to sixth. With a 36-27 record, the C’s now find themselves just two and a half games out of third and five games out of first.
Just two months ago, the Celtics were 16-19 heading into the final game of 2021. They had been facing plenty of criticism for their inconsistent play, but Jaylen Brown said the team did a great job of staying the course and remaining even-keeled.
“We try to keep the outside pressure outside and just come in and play basketball,” Brown said after a 23-point effort against the Pacers. “Just hoop, execute, do your job well, and just stay the course. And that's brought us into good moments in the season, even in the midst of adversity.”
Such a mindset should go a long way in carrying them through the first part of March, which features a tough group of foes. Boston will start off the month with one of its most difficult homestands of the season, facing Atlanta, Memphis, and Brooklyn, respectively, over the next week.
Brown says the goal during the upcoming string of games is to “keep hanging the hat on defense.”
“If we can guard,” he added, “I think we’ll be alright. So I’m looking forward to being really good on the defensive side for this next stretch.”
Aside from the first homestand, Boston will face several other top teams over the course of the month. It’ll host Dallas, Utah, Minnesota, and Miami, and it’ll also play on the road at Charlotte, Golden State, Denver, and Toronto.
The C’s will certainly have their work cut out for them throughout the month, but perhaps the momentum from their most successful February in 40-plus years can help them continue their rise up the standings.