A team that looked dead in the water has seemed to return form. With the return of Avery Bradley the Celtics have won 3 straight(Longest of the season). Since Avery's return the Celtics are holding opponents to 86.5 points a game 10 points under their season average. Avery's presence on this team is so important to their perimeter defense. As a ball hounding defender he can really make a huge impact on a team. By guarding the opposing team best perimeter defender he really allows Rajon Rondo to roam around and play a free safety role much like Kobe Bryant does for the Lakers at times. It also benefits Rondo by not having to expend so much energy chasing around opposing guards. Offensively he still needs to find his comfort zone but so far his impact on defense has been nothing short of live saving. According to 82games.com with Avery on the court the Celtics are only giving up about 0.89 points per possession and 89 points per 100 possessions which is 11 points lower than Kevin Garnett. Even though it is only a small sample size the sheer fact that the Celtics have been this successful with Avery is very impressive.
The most impressive thing about this stretch of basketball for the Cs is the competition they've done it against. Their 3 game win streak has come against the Pacers,Hawks and Knicks which are 3 of the top 4 seeds in the East. The fact that they're playing well against top playoff contenders has to be a sign of things to come.
I dont want to overreact and proclaim that this team is prepared to make a deep playoff run just yet. The bench still needs to prove that they can be consistent. Guys like Jeff Green and Jason Terry have been very streaky in their offensive contributions so far this year. The 3 point defense needs to improve if this team is going to make any noise in the playoffs. The Celtics have the 4th worst 3pt % defense in the league. Part of it is communication on the perimeter as most of these threes that they're giving up are wide open looks.
With Avery back and the rotations (hopefully) set in stone the Celtics have finally proved to all of us that they're ready to be taken seriously. Being able to go on the road twice and beat two top 4 teams in the East really opened my eyes. It finally feels like the Celtics are back