Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Right Now the Hottest Team in the NBA Plays in Boston/Celtics May Have 3 of the Top 25 Scorers of All Time

This is a two part blog, but one flows seamlessly into the other.  The Celtics have won 5 in a row and 9 of their last 10, both of which are tops in the league at the moment.  Not only that, but statistically they have the BEST defense in the NBA this year, allowing just 86.5 points per game, the lowest average of any team.  Three weeks ago if I'd told you that Boston would have a better record than L.A. when the Lakers came to town, you'd have thought I was crazy.  But that's the case (Celtics are 14-10, Lakers are 14-11), and Boston has done it behind the resurgence of old guys Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

Late last month when his team was starting to play better, Doc Rivers said his guys just weren't in shape early in the season.  It's beginning to look more and more like he knew exactly what he was talking about.  In January I wondered myself if KG could even dunk anymore, but his legs looked as fresh as ever on that monster jam he threw down against Charlotte Tuesday night.  Not only that but he seems to have added some range to his jump shot of late, evoking memories of an aging Kevin McHale in 1990.

Meanwhile, Pierce is currently playing as well as he has in a long time.  His 9 assists vs the Bobcats gave him 5 or more for the 12th straight game, the longest such streak he's ever had in his career.  The fact that he passed Bird on the Celtics all time scoring list Tuesday keyed me in on some other very impressive numbers.  Boston's "Big 3" make up half of the top 6 active career scoring leaders in the NBA (the other 3 are Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, and Tim Duncan).

More importantly, this edition of the Celtics could finish the year with 3 of the top 25 scorers of ALL TIME.  Garnett is 19th on the list, and Ray Allen is 24th.  At the moment Pierce has 21,797 career points, and should have no problem passing the the current #25, Clyde Drexler (22,195).  The challenge will come from Tim Duncan, who's got 22,009 career points, 212 more than Pierce.  If Duncan continues to average 13.8 ppg for the Spurs 40 remaining games, he'll have exactly 22,561 at season's end.  Pierce is averaging 18.4 ppg; if he keeps that up for the Celtics final 42 games, he will finish the year at 22,570.  Exactly nine points ahead of Duncan.  Wow.  That should be interesting to watch.

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