Boston, MA - The Boston Celtics are still in third place in the Atlantic Division, but they have improved to a record of 13-10 since falling to 10-10 and certainly seem to be on the upswing. The Celtics still have a lot more to figure out, to be sure, but the signs of life they have shown with reinvigorating lineup changes have been greatly promising to the Boston fanbase.
On Friday night, the Celtics absolutely demolished the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that has proven itself to be cellar dwellers in the Eastern Conference this year. Boston jumped out to an early lead over Cleveland and really pulled away in the third quarter with a nineteen point differential in scoring. The latest edition of Brad Stevens' lineup tinkering resulted in a starting five of Jayson Tatum and Kyrie Irving, two of the perennial starters from the entire Celtics season thus far, as well as Aron Baynes, Marcus Morris, and Marcus Smart. The lineup was an effective one with each player recording double digits in the scoring column. Irving led the charge, however, as he dropped twenty-nine points in just three quarters against the hapless Cavaliers.
One of the promising signs came in the play from the bench, a weak spot from the team all season, as Terry Rozier added ten points and Gordon Hayward put up fourteen as a reserve. The Celtics wound up winning 128-95.
Against a much more competent team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, on Saturday, the Celtics proved that they were capable of beating up on more than just the league's worst. Their lineup for this game consisted of Irving, Tatum, Smart, Morris, and Al Horford. Irving once again put up the most points of the starters with twenty-one and Tatum added nineteen of his own. Irving also went for nine assists, which was the only category he led for the Celtics during the game.
That was because Hayward finally had his breakout game on the season. The former All-Star has looked completely lost on the court all season, but coming off the bench, he put on a show against Minnesota, with thirty points in thirty minutes played, as well as nine rebounds and eight assists. He was the first Celtic in history to put up numbers like these from the bench. If he can keep it up, Boston might be able to finally get rolling.