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Celtics run up the score on top teams

Jimmy Myers
Celtics run up the score on top teams

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Major homecourt victories over the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors this weekend allowed the Boston Celtics to solidify their hold as the number one team in the NBA.

The Green turned in strong offensive performance against Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and the Mavericks on their way to a lopsided 138-110 triumph. But that was just a preview to the franchise’s record-setting 140-88 beat-down the Celts laid on the Warriors before a national viewing audience on Sunday.

It was the eleventh straight win for the Celtics, who posted the third-largest winning margin in franchise history and their third 50-point victory of the season to set an NBA record. The team has been beating opponents by an average of 22.1 points over the past 11 games. Boston has outscored teams by 29.8 over the last six games, a span that included two 50-point wins.

That is the best point differential over six games in NBA history, passing the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers (+28.3). The Lakers team won a then-record 69 games on its way to the first title for the franchise since it moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles.

Glory days

This current edition of the Green, with 48 wins and just 12 losses, has one of the best records in 60 games in franchise history. The team has won the NBA title three of the past four times it has posted a 48-12 record or better by this point in the season.

The 1964-65 Bill Russell-led Celtics won the NBA Championship after posting a 49-11 record. The 1985-86 Celtics, led by Larry Bird, also posted a 49-11 record on their way to an NBA title. The 2007-08 Celtics team, starring Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, brought home NBA Championship banner number 17, which ties the record for league titles with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kristaps Porzingis PHOTO: COURTESY NBA

Only the 1972-73 Celtics — of John Havlicek glory and a 48-12 record — failed to go on to an NBA title. But that was the post-season when Havlicek played with a separated right shoulder and shot left-handed in an Eastern Conference championship loss to the New York Knicks, who went on to win the NBA title.

In the record-setting Warriors contest on Sunday, Jaylen Brown got the party started with a 19-point first quarter on his way to a 29-point game in just 22 minutes. The Warriors’ strategy was to leave Brown open in the early going. He took issue with the bogus move of Draymond Green playing off and daring him to shoot by hitting five of eight from 3-point land — with three straight in a 40-second span — as the Celts ran off to a 44-22 lead after one quarter.

Jayson Tatum (27 points in 25 minutes), celebrating his 26th birthday, joined the festivities as the Celtics flew from a 21-21 tie to score 14 straight points as part of a 58-13 spree that put them ahead by as many as 35 late in the second quarter. By halftime, the Celts had opened an 82-38 advantage, receiving a standing ovation from the sellout crowd at TD Bank Garden upon leaving the floor.

Warriors point guard Stephen Curry. PHOTO: CYRUS SAATSAZ

The Celtics defense played a major role in their runaway victory, holding Warriors star Stephen Curry to a season-low four points (0-for-9 shooting, 2-for-13) before he departed in the second quarter.

But a fully healthy Curry would not have been able to stop the offensive onslaught of the Celtics on this day. Boston shot 62.5% on 3-point shots (10 of 16) and 57.1% overall (16 for 28 from the floor) in the opening quarter and never looked back.

And all this came without the services of power forward/center Kristaps Porzingis (20.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.8 blocked shots in 44 games) who was sidelined with a quad injury.

I gave the Celtics a strong “B” as an overall team grade at all-star break. Following their total domination of the Mavericks and Warriors, the team grade has now jumped to an “A.” Time will tell if that grade holds and produces championship banner number 18.

In other NBA news, a special mention is reserved for LeBron James, who became the first player in NBA history to pass the 40,000-point plateau. The NBA’s all-time leading scorer entered Saturday night’s game against the defending champion Denver Nuggets needing just nine points to reach the 40K mark.

He got there with a driving layup off a spin move at the 10:39 mark of the second quarter. He finished the game with 26 points, putting his career total at 40,017 and counting. No other active NBA player has even 30,000 points.

Despite James’ heroics, his Lakers team lost the game to the Nuggets by a final of 124-114.