This stat puts Celtics' insane second-half turnaround in perspective

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Remember when the Boston Celtics were bad?

It actually wasn't too long ago; they were three games under .500 on Dec. 29 (16-19) and were the No. 10 seed in the Eastern Conference at 23-24 on Jan. 22 -- just over two months ago.

To say they've flipped a switch would be an understatement: Boston has won 23 of its 27 games since that date, the latest a 125-97 pulverizing of a very good Utah Jazz team.

The C's woke up Thursday morning just 1.5 games behind the Miami Heat for the top seed in the East at 46-28.

Celtics-Jazz takeaways: C's get payback in flawless performance

The Celtics' dramatic 180 begs an important question: Is there precedent for this kind of turnaround? How many other teams have been as bad as Boston in the first half of the season and as dominant in the second half?

The answer, according to ESPN Stats & Info, is two. In the history of the NBA.

The Celtics' work isn't done yet. They currently own a .622 winning percentage with eight games remaining and need to win at least four of those final eight games to finish above .600 on the season.

But if they go 4-4 or better down the stretch, they'll become just the third team in NBA history to have a losing record at the season's midway point (20-21 on Jan. 11) and go on to win 60% of its regular-season games.

Plenty of people deserve credit for Boston's about-face: All-Star Jayson Tatum has elevated his game to become a strong facilitator in addition to scorer; point guard Marcus Smart is averaging 8.0 assists per game in March; head coach Ime Udoka is emerging as a dark-horse Coach of the Year candidate while overseeing the NBA's best defense (by a wide margin); and president of basketball operations Brad Stevens pushed the right buttons at the NBA trade deadline by moving Dennis Schroder and Josh Richardson and bringing in Derrick White.

Once a playoff afterthought, the Celtics now look like legitimate NBA title contenders -- and now the pressure is on in Boston for the team to make good on those elevated expectations.

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