Midseason Report Cards 2017-18

2017-18 Midseason Report Card: Boston Celtics

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann

(All stats and records through Jan. 14; for report cards for all 30 teams click here.)

Offense: 105.0, 14th Overall

Defense: 99.6, 1st Overall

W-L | Pct. | GB

34-10| .773| —

Conf.: 22-8

Div.: 8-1

Home: 18-5

Road: 16-5

FRONTCOURT: A

Jayson Tatum is at the top of the league in 3-point percentage as a rookie. Al Horford has been an All-Star-level cog on both ends of the floor, and Aron Baynes has been one the league’s best interior defenders.

BACKCOURT: A-

Kyrie Irving has adjusted well to his new team, is having the most efficient scoring season of his career, and has improved defensively. Jaylen Brown has added solid shooting to his length and athleticism.

DEFENSE: A

The league’s No. 1 defense ranks second in opponent field goal percentage in the paint and first in opponent effective field goal percentage from outside the paint. Improvement on the glass has been critical, too.

BENCH: B

The Celtics have been outscored with Horford off the floor, but Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier give them a ton of energy off the bench. Injuries have allowed their international rookies to play non-garbage-time minutes.

COACHING: A

Brad Stevens has guided a brand new team – the Celtics returned only four players (and one starter) from last season’s roster – to the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference, despite Gordon Hayward’s traumatic injury in Game 1.

OVERALL GRADE: A-

The Celtics have been the most resilient team in the league. Their star free agent acquisition suffered a nasty injury in the first five minutes of the season and they responded with a 16-game winning streak after starting the season 0-2. They’re the only team with a winning record (9-8) after trailing by double-digits. They’ve trailed only three games by 20-plus points, but have won two of them.

Added length and more switching has produced the league’s best and most improved defense. The Celtics have allowed 5.9 fewer points per 100 possessions than they did last season. They’ve had the best defense, by a wide margin, against the league’s top 10 offenses, having held them to just 100.3 points per 100 possessions in 12 games (and winning 10 of the 12).

There’s room for improvement on offense, where the Celtics have been a bottom-10 team over the last month. While their young guys have surpassed expectations, they still don’t get enough in the paint or at the line to rank as a top-10 offense themselves.

With the Cleveland Cavaliers showing slippage, the Celtics have a chance to be the team that unseats them in the East. Either way, Boston is set up for title contention for the next few years.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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