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The Boston Celtics had a hiccup after winning the first three games of the season, but they’ve made sure it didn’t turn into anything more serious.

After seeing their record dip to 4-3, the Celtics have rattled off five straight wins, including an impressive 131-112 win over the Denver Nuggets on Friday. Early MVP candidate Jayson Tatum led the way with 34 points, but it was his postgame comment that should have Celtics fans excited.

Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics are rolling

Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics goes to the basket against Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets during the second half at TD Garden on November 11, 2022, in Boston, Massachusetts. | Winslow Townson/Getty Images.

For the third straight game, Tatum scored at least 30 points as Boston improved to 9-3. It’s the seventh time this season he’s eclipsed the 30-point mark.

Last year, the Celtics were the top defending team in the NBA. This year, they’re doing it with offense. Boston leads the NBA in scoring at 119.8 points, but more importantly, they are winning. A year ago, the Celtics stumbled out of the gates, going 6-6 through their first 12 games.

In fact, the underachieving Celtics hovered around mediocrity for four months, going 25-25 through the first 50 games. Players grew frustrated. First-year coach Ime Udoka questioned the team’s effort multiple times. Boston was a mess.

Something finally clicked with the Celtics. They finished the regular season by winning 26 of 32 games to secure the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. The battled their way through a grueling postseason, where they eventually fell to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals in six games.

This year, Tatum has taken charge from the start. He’s averaging 31.4 points and 7.0 rebounds. His offensive game has become more complete as he’s taking the ball to the hole more, and it’s paying off. He’s shooting a career-best 50% from the floor.

Tatum said the difference between this year and last year is like ‘night and day’


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It’s still way too early in the season, but the Celtics are a far cry from where they were this time last year. They picked right up where they left off, and that should be worrisome to other NBA teams. Last year, they showed they can be the best defensive team in the game, and now they’ve got the league’s top offense. They’re doing all this without their starting center, Robert Williams III.

After Friday’s win over the Nuggets, Tatum acknowledged the difference between last year and this year.

“It’s like night and day, the way that we’re playing the start of this season compared to the start of last season,” Tatum told reporters after Friday’s game. “Whenever we made that change, I just feel like we haven’t looked back.

“For the most part, we got the same group, one or two new guys, but they really know how to play the game. From the first day of training camp, just trusting each other.”

Tatum’s right. The Celtics haven’t looked back. They have that drive, and they know what it takes to get to the Finals. They’re motivated, not only to get there, but to win it all.

Tatum has been getting to the line more by driving to the hoop. He said he worked on getting stronger in the offseason, and it’s paying off.

“I worked on my body a lot this summer and physically just feel a lot better,” Tatum said. “Reading the game, as well as being able to attack the basket, I’m much more physical than in past years.”

The Celtics are also a much better fourth-quarter team than they were last year when they blew several significant leads. They also added veteran Malcolm Brogdon to the mix to give them a much deeper team. The Celtics are in much better shape than they were last year, and that’s a scary thought for the rest of the Eastern Conference.