BOSTON - The Boston Celtics return home from a three-game road trip bringing the best of souvenirs-three wins.
And with those victories, the Celtics (7-1) now find themselves tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for the best record in the NBA.
In recent days, we've talked a lot about the various elements that have converged to deliver some of the best basketball we could have imagined the Celtics would be playing at this point in the season.
But there are some aspects of their success that haven't gotten a ton of attention but still have value.
And with that, we bring you some Sunday leftovers highlighting some of the more below-the-radar factors contributing to the team's fast start to the season.
THEIS IS NICE
Part of a logjam at center to start the season, Daniel Theis has distinguished himself as the best option for Boston in the middle. During Boston's recent three-game road trip, he averaged 6.0 points per game along with 7.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 2.7 blocked shots - all better than his season average in those respective categories.
More than anything else, Theis' defense has been what's kept him on the floor for Boston. His defensive rating of 96.6 ranks fifth among centers who have played more than one game this season and are averaging at least 20 minutes played per game.
And the four players ahead of him reads like a who's who of defensive standouts the past decade, a foursome that includes Joel Embiid (91.1), Anthony Davis (94.1), Dwight Howard (95.3) and Rudy Gobert (96.4).
But that stat that matters more than any other-wins-is what truly sticks out when you talk about Theis being a starter.
Since becoming a Celtic, Boston has yet to lose a game (11-0) with Theis in the starting lineup. That includes wins in all six games he has started this season for the Celtics.
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TIME LORD ROCKS THE RIM
The way things have gone this season, Celtics fans have come to expect Robert Williams III to send someone's shot a few rows back into the stands every night. The 6-foot-10 center came into the league known as a big-time shot blocker at the college level. And while his time in the NBA has not always been the smoothest journey, Williams' ability to impact the game defensively at the rim is clear. He is averaging 1.7 blocked shots while logging less than 16 minutes on the floor per game. NBa.com/stats shows that per 36 minutes, Williams' shot-blocking numbers rise to 3.7 per game which per 36 minutes would rank ninth in the NBA. And he's doing more than just swatting a few shot attempts away when he's on the floor. Among centers averaging 16 minutes or less per game, only Dallas' Boban Marjanovic (+9.5) has a better plus-minus among centers, than Williams (+5.0).
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C'S ARE ELITE AT BOTH ENDS OF THE FLOOR
Through most of Brad Stevens' time in Boston, we have seen the Celtics excel at scoring the ball and dominate defensively. But rarely have we seen them play a dominant brand of basketball on both sides of the court. But that's exactly what we've seen thus far, a major factor in Boston's impressive start to the season. The Celtics have played with the kind of balance that has fueled their success in ways few envisioned.
Offensively, Boston has an offensive rating (110.4) that ranks fourth in the NBA. And their defense is just as strong, with a defensive rating (101.1) which ranks fifth in the league. The Celtics are the only team in the NBA that's ranked among the top five in both offensive and defensive ratings.
While some are hesitant to jump on the Celtics bandwagon just yet because it's still so early in the season, here's what you have to consider. No one is saying that the Celtics are going to just roll on and dominate the rest of the season. But consider how well they have played on both sides of the ball both at home and on the road, there's reason to believe that the Celtics' success will remain high for the rest of the season.
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Sunday leftovers from Celtics' impressive start to the season originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston