Celtics not putting much stock in division standings

Celtics not putting much stock in division standings
December 3, 2013, 11:45 pm
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BOSTON — Most NBA fans would be a little lighter in the wallet if they had to place a bet on whether the Boston Celtics would be tops in the Atlantic Division after 20 games played.

But here they are, (barely) sitting atop the division following Tuesday's 108-100 win over Milwaukee.

The victory improves their record to 8-12 which is well, it's 8-12.

It's not pretty.

It's not even average.

But it is, for now at least, the best in the Atlantic Division.

"It feels great," said Jared Sullinger whose 18-footer with less than a minute to play on Tuesday proved to be the game-winning basket. "We just play hard every night, giving every team our best effort."

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens acknowledges that he has paid attention to the standings and is well aware of his club's status among their Atlantic brethren.

But above all else, Stevens is a realist.

He refuses to make the Celtics' lofty perch out to be more than it really is.

"It's not like we're setting the world on fire," he said.

But they are playing well enough to where folks may start to warm up to the idea that this rebuilding Celtics team may just be better than most anticipated.

When the Celtics traded away Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce this summer, the belief was that they were angling for one of the top picks in this year's draft - better known to most as tanking.

Boston players have been shouting down such talk all season, and the latest to chime in on the topic was Jared Sullinger earlier this week.

"A lot of guys expect us to tank for (Jabari) Parker or (Andrew) Wiggins," said Sullinger, referring to two players widely considered as the first two players selected in next June's NBA draft.

"Y'all might as well throw that out the door. I don't know why people keep talking about tanking," Sullinger said. "We just want to win and show everybody that they can kiss our butts about that tanking stuff."

Indeed, Boston has proven to be a more competitive team in many aspects but they know they are far, far away from being a team that can challenge for one of the top spots in the East.

Stevens isn't putting too much stock into where his team stands now, not with so many games left to be played.

"It has no bearing on my life," he said. "Literally none. What it is, it is, you can take a snapshot of where you stand versus the competition, but it has nothing to do with your preparation on your next opponent, it has nothing to do with getting better tomorrow, it just has what's happened."