A win streak. Remember those? In November and December of 2008, the Celtics managed to string together 19 in a row. This year’s Clippers reached 17. This year’s pre-Bradley Celtics were just hoping to play 48 straight minutes of solid basketball in a row. Now, only a week later, and five games into what I’m tempted to call “The Bradley Effect,” we have four straight. Since 2007, we have been used to glancing at the scheduling and figuring some games would turn into certain victories. This year, it’s been hard to count on anything. I think it’s safe to say that we have a different team today than we did in early November. In addition to Bradley’s defensive impact, the roles are becoming solidified by the day. Sullinger is gaining consistent minutes. Courtney Lee is energizing the second unit off the bench, as if merely watching Bradley play defense in the first quarter charges him up. Green is starting to gain a rhythm. This is the bench we have been imagining since September.
Will the streak continue on Friday when the Celtics host Houston? The Rockets 101-89 win in mid-December was the beginning of a disastrous three-game road trip for Boston. If the C’s rejuvenated physical defense can ramp up the intensity on rookie power forward Greg Smith and second-year wing-forward Chandler Parsons, then yes. Smith, who shot 8 of 9, scoring 20 points in 22 minutes, while adding 3 blocked shots, will be seeing much more of Jared Sullinger, who played only 14 minutes in the earlier match-up. Parsons’ athleticism led to him posting a near triple-double on the C’s. While Bradley will be used on Harden, Parsons presents serious problems for Pierce. Jeff Green seems like an ideal defender to keep pace with Parsons.
With the momentum the Celtics are riding, and the fact that they have three more home dates after Houston, look for the streak to reach seven games if they can survive the Rockets’ youth. Charlotte and New Orleans should be much easier to handle. See how easy it is believe that this team should beat the weaker teams? Meanwhile, the Wizards, owners of five wins on the season, have beaten Miami and, earlier this week, Oklahoma City.