The Celtics haven’t lost since Oct. 18.
Today is Nov. 20.
In this past month, the Celtics have become a team, T-E-A-M, in every sense of the word. Championship teams typically have a different player step forward with a big game every night. Last Thursday’s monumental win over the defending NBA champion Warriors was the “Jaylen game.” The win over the Lakers on Nov. 8 was the “Aron Baynes game.” The road win over the Thunder on Nov. 4 was the “Kyrie game,” and the road win over the Bucks on Oct. 26 was the “Horford game.”
This player of the game by committee deal the Celtics have going right now during this 15-game win streak is a great sign that the Celtics will be legitimate NBA Finals contenders come springtime. For now, it’s a sign that the Celtics will be able to extend this streak into the 20s.
“Most of us have never been on a winning streak like this,” Irving said. “I don’t know if we even know how to pay attention to all the hoopla that goes on in terms of the excitement of it. I just think that every single game we take it as a challenge.”
The Celtics do not exactly face a murderers’ row of opponents through the end of this month as they’ll play at Dallas (tonight, 8:30, NBC Sports Boston), at Miami, at home versus Orlando, at Indiana, at home versus Detroit and at home versus the 76ers. Those teams have a combined record of 44-50.
The game against the Pistons next Monday could pose a challenge as Detroit is the most surprising team in the NBA at 10-5, and in early December they’ll host Milwaukee. The Bucks (8-7) are the last team to beat the Celtics. If the C’s can hold on to their streak until then they’ll go into the Milwaukee game with a 22-game win streak.
The Celtics franchise record for a win streak is 19, which they accomplished in 2008-09. A streak of 22 would tie the C’s for the fourth longest streak in league history. The all-time longest streak is 33, held by the 1971-72 LA Lakers.
Smith Jr. vs. Tatum
The Celtics have something of a layup tonight against the Mavericks as Dallas owns the worst record in the NBA at 3-14. One of the few things the Mavs have going for them is rookie Dennis Smith Jr., however. The ninth overall pick of this past summer’s draft, Smith Jr. is averaging 14.5 points and 4.5 assists per game.
Smith Jr. and Philly’s Ben Simmons are Jayson Tatum’s primary challenges for the Rookie of the Year award. Tatum is averaging 13.9 points and 5.6 rebounds per game this season.