It’s been a top-heavy year in the NBA as the Rockets (53-14), Warriors (51-16), Raptors (49-17) and Celtics (46-21) have emerged as the clear-cut top four teams in the NBA.
LeBron’s Cavs and the superstar-laden Thunder will have a say come playoff time, but it’s becoming increasingly less likely that we’ll see either Cleveland or OKC in this year’s Finals.
So, matching the C’s up against the other top three teams in pro basketball – the Rockets, Warriors and Raptors – let’s a take a look where they rank.
Offensively, it’s not pretty.
Golden State (115 points per game), Houston (113.7 ppg) and Toronto (112.2 ppg) rank 1-2-3 in that order in the league in scoring. The Celtics, meanwhile, are ranked 20th in the NBA in scoring – averaging 104.4 points per game. Dregs like the Suns, Magic, Nets and Lakers are actually ahead of the Celtics in that category.
This is not to say the Celtics can’t put up big point totals, however. Recently, they hung 117 on defensive guru Tom Thibodeau’s Timberwolves, put up 120 in Houston against the Rockets, and posted 134 at home in a win over Charlotte.
The Celtics also rely on multiple players to put up big point totals each night. If just one or two of their usual scorers are cold, it typically ends in a rough night for the C’s. The Celtics have seven players that are averaging over 10.0 points per game this season in Kyrie Irving (24.4), Jaylen Brown (14.1), Jayson Tatum (13.3), Al Horford (12.9), Marcus Morris (12.3), Terry Rozier (10.6) and Marcus Smart (10.2).
By comparison, the NBA scoring leading Warriors only have four players that average over 10 points per game.
Unlike the other top three teams in the league, the Celtics are getting the brunt of their wins thanks to their defensive approach. The Celtics are second in the NBA in points allowed per game, allowing just 100.2. Only the Spurs are below the century mark, giving up just 99.8 points per game.
Toronto is sixth in the league in that category, while Houston is 11th and Golden State is 20th.
Wizards on tap
The Celtics could be without Kyrie Irving (knee) tonight against the Wizards (8 p.m., NBCSB, ESPN) at the Garden, and will definitely be without Jaylen Brown (concussion) and Marcus Smart (thumb).
Don’t expect Washington to have too much sympathy for the Celtics, however, as it has been without star guard John Wall (knee) since late January. Wall is expected to be back playing by the end of the month.
The Wizards have hung tight since Wall went down, and are just a half game away from overtaking the slumping Cavs for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Bradley Beal (19.1 ppt) and Otto Porter Jr. (18.7) have picked up the scoring slack for Washington in Wall’s absence.