You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Red Sox Live

3

3

▲  4th Inning 0 outs

editorial

With Celtics in first place, .400 is above average

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

This year’s Celtics have been straightforward in their willingness to sacrifice a season to retooling for the future. The team’s efforts to reposition itself — for instance, by letting go of aging stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce — were never likely to yield many victories this year. Under new coach Brad Stevens, the Celtics started off an unsurprising 0-4. Since then, they’ve improved a bit, but only to 8-12.

Somehow, though, this was enough to claim first place this week. One big advantage to playing in the lowly Atlantic Division, the NBA’s worst, is that even a .400 team can shine. The Celtics are two games ahead of Brooklyn, where Pierce and Garnett now reside. The 37-year-old Stevens, who led tiny Butler College to two national championship games, has if nothing else instilled a scrappy style in his team.

Stevens himself has no illusions. “It’s not like we’re lighting the world on fire,” he said. Some fans no doubt saw hope in failure: A truly awful record would yield a one-in-seven lottery chance at the top draft pick next year, which could yield a superstar to build a new team around. But these Celtics deserve credit for actually trying to win, even if it puts hopes for a lottery pick on hold. Previously unthinkable, a playoff appearance looks like at least a mathematical possibility — and would be a reward of its own.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.