Recapping Boston’s Hot Start to February


The Boston Celtics have hit their stride in synchronization with the arrival of the All-Star break. They had a relatively easy schedule over week 16, and were able to finish strong in games that wound up being close. Maybe the most promising fact, however, is that the injury report no longer replicates a receipt from CVS.

Here’s what head coach Brad Stevens was having to navigate earlier this month:


And now? The Celtics are operating at full strength, with the lone exception being Robert Williams, who is likely to return shortly after All-Star weekend. But before diving into the future, let’s take a look back at how Boston managed a 6-1 start to February.

2/1: vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Result: 116-95 W

The Celtics began the month with a bang, defeating rival Philly in blowout fashion, 116-95. Despite struggling from beyond the arc (1-10), Jaylen Brown was still able to finish with a team-high 32 points with nine rebounds and two steals. On the flip side of the coin, Philly was held to a mere 7-33 from beyond the arc (21.2%), and a tick south of 37% shooting overall.

Top Performers

Jaylen Brown: 32p/9r/2s

Jayson Tatum: 25p/3r/4a

Marcus Smart: 16p/4r/4a/2s


Result: 123-115 W

Trae Young has been one of the most unstoppable, impressive guards this year. In just his sophomore season, the 6-foot-1 point guard averages 29.7 points and 9.2 assists on 44.3 percent shooting. Even Boston’s 105.3 defensive rating (third-best in the league) has been no match for young, who scored 62 total points in his two games vs. Boston. But his game-high 34 on 10-for-20 shooting still wasn’t enough. With Kemba Walker sidelined, the Celtics turned to Jayson Tatum who led the team with 28 points. Four other Celtics joined him in double-figures, including rookie Grant Williams who stepped up late in the game:

Top Performers

Jayson Tatum: 28p/7r, 10/20 FG, 5-9 3PT

Gordon Hayward: 24p/7r/6a

Jaylen Brown: 21p/5r



Result: 116-100 W

Once again, Jayson Tatum led the way with 33 points — his sixth 30-plus point performance of the season (now seven). Boston got off to a hot start, and was able to fend off an impressive performance from Orlando in the second and third quarters. But when Vincent Poirier converted a three-point play with 2:32 left in the third, Boston regained the lead and never lost it. This was the second time these two groups squared off this season, with the Celtics winning those games by an average of 18.5 points — a turnaround from last year when the Magic won all three matchups.

Top Performers

Jayson Tatum: 33p/8r/5a

Gordon Hayward: 23p/7r/7a



Result: 112-107 W

The Celtics faced off against the Hawks for the second time this week on Friday, but this time it was Atlanta with the lengthy injury report.

Romeo Langford encountered meaningful minutes for the second-straight game. The rookie made the most of his opportunity, setting a career-high with 16 points and swatting away three shots. Surprisingly, the exceptionally shorthanded Hawks made Boston work for it. John Collins and Kevin Huerter combined for 55 points, but Tatum’s game-high 32 gave Boston the series sweep. He made seven of his 12 three-point attempts, and dug deep into his bag for a crucial bucket:

Top Performers

Jayson Tatum: 32p/6a, 10/19 FG

Enes Kanter: 16p/15r



Result: 112-111 W

The concluding game for week 16 was an absolute dogfight for the C’s, taking on one of the hottest teams in the league. Both groups are top five in overall record since Thanksgiving, and the Thunder entered the night winning nine of their last ten. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari both dropped 24 points, while guards Chris Paul and Dennis Schroder had 22 apiece. Team defense nearly won the game for OKC, but ultimately it was Boston’s fully healthy roster (bar Robert Williams) that squeezed out a seventh-straight dub.

Top Performers

Kemba Walker: 27p, 11/13 FT

Jayson Tatum: 26p/11r, 10/19 FG

Daniel Theis: 13p/11r/4a



Result: 116-105 L

Week 17 featured two Western Conference bouts for the C’s. Their first came against James Harden and the Houston Rockets, who were able to successfully end Boston’s winning streak. Houston went all-in on small ball at the trade deadline, dealing Clint Capela to the Atlanta Hawks for Robert Covington.

The Rockets had 17 more attempts than Boston at the charity stripe, converting 37 of their 42 tries. The backcourt tandem of Harden and Russell Westbrook combined for 78 points, with Harden’s final +/- at a healthy +24.

Top Performers

Gordon Hayward: 20p/8r/6a

Jaylen Brown: 19p, 4/8 3PT



Result: 141-133 W/2OT

The final game for Boston before All-Star weekend was a double-overtime thriller and arguably Jayson Tatum’s best game in his young career. Tatum led all scorers with 39 points, going 14-23 from the field. The Duke University product resembled a true superstar from start to finish, proving once again why he received his first All-Star berth this year.

Both games between the Clippers and Celtics this year have needed extra time to determine a winner, with the Clippers edging Boston in their first meeting 107-104.

Top Performers

Jayson Tatum: 39p/9r, 14/23 FG

Marcus Smart: 31p/4 steals, 10/20 FG

Gordon Hayward: 21p/13r


The C’s begin the unofficial second half of the season with a week-long road trip to play four teams from the West. Boston is set to battle the Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, and Jazz for the first time this season during that stretch. The fourth team to be played is the rivaled Lakers for the final time, after Boston embarrassed LeBron and co. 139-107 in late January.

Follow us on Twitter @CelticsLead for the latest Celtics news and insight.

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