By Christopher Cohen, Sports Editor
The Boston Celtics continue to dominate the Eastern Conference standings as they balance between first and second place in the Atlantic Division with a 6-3 record.
Overall, the Celtics are 29-18 on the season as the team recently capped off a 112-108 victory against the Milwaukee Bucks on the road.
Isaiah Thomas led all scorers with 37 points in his forty minutes on the floor. Thomas also led the Boston backcourt with a team-high eight assists. Once again, Thomas has been named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team for the second consecutive season since being traded to the Celtics from the Phoenix Suns.
Jae Crowder, whom the Celtics acquired from the Dallas Mavericks before the signing of a five-year contract to stay in Boston contributed 20 points including a perfect six for six from the free throw line. Crowder also grabbed five rebounds and dished four assists in his 38 minutes on the court.
Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown filled in in-place of an ailing Avery Bradley. Although Brown has yet to meet expectations on the stat sheet, his devoted focus is unparalleled by many in his generation of play. Brown scored nine points and grabbed eight rebounds in his 27 minutes on the floor.
Although Brown has had limited opportunities to start for the Celtics, he’s averaging nine points, five rebounds, two assists, and a steal while averaging twenty-plus minutes of time on the court. Despite averaging just five points and two rebounds per game after being selected as the third overall pick, many are beginning to sleep on the Celtics latest investment; yet I’m stubbornly unable to throw in the towel on the kid from Cal yet.
Speaking of Boston’s investments, Kelly Olynyk continued to provide a pivotal position in the Celtics rotation against Milwaukee. Olynyk provided 17 points and 7 rebounds off the bench, despite leading the big-men with thirty-five minutes of court action. Marcus Smart also contributed thirty-four minutes of game action, finishing with nine points, five assists, and four rebounds as he provided defensive relief for Thomas and Brown in the backcourt.
Thomas is averaging 29 points per game, the highest average of his career as he once more returns to the All-Star reserves. After forty-three games on the season, Thomas has been honorably mentioned in various MVP conversations as he continues to shoot nearly fifty percent from the floor, and over ninety percent from behind the free throw line. Thomas has consistently averaged just over six assists and three rebounds per game throughout his career as a starter for the Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, and Boston Celtics.
The Boston Celtics are currently ranked second in the NBA in assists per game with 25.5, sitting only behind the Golden State Warriors who are maintaining an astounding 31.1 assists per contest. The Celtics are also second in the league free throw shooting as they post an 81.7 average, just behind the San Antonio Spurs 81.8 average free throw percentage per game.
The Celtics will close out January in their Monday night matchup on TNT against Andre Drummond and the Detroit Pistons.
Boston will then kick off February with a homestead series against Kyle Lowry’s Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Lakers, and Los Angeles Clippers before their own trip to the golden state to face off against Demarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings.
The Cleveland Cavaliers command the Eastern Conference, with the Celtics, Raptors, Hawks, and Wizards vying for the two-five slot standings positions.
With Boston riding a three game win streak, Celtics nation should rest assured that not much is likely to change before the all-star break in the upcoming weeks.