Boston Celtics start season with best record in NBA

Sports writer Brenton Jennings discusses the Celtics’ season so far and what is to come.

After losing the 2022 NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors in six games, the Boston Celtics were looking to replicate their success for the upcoming season. But the off-season did not start off in their favor. A month before the season, first-year head coach Ime Udoka was suspended for the entire 2022-2023 season for violation of team policies, pertaining to an intimate relationship with a female staff member. Because of this, assistant-turned-interim coach Joe Mazzulla, who had no previous NBA head coaching experience, took over. Then, both Robert Williams III and Danilo Gallinari – who had just signed a contract a few months prior – had surgeries on their knee and leg, respectively. Going into the season, people had their doubts with a new head coach and roster turnover from the previous year, but that has since been squashed.

Through the first 55 games of the season, the Celtics have amassed a 39-16 record, giving them the best overall record in the NBA. With highly productive play from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the team has ascended to the top of the league. Jayson Tatum, entering his sixth season, has turned heads by averaging 30.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists on shooting splits of 46.2/35.3/86.8. Despite the talent the league has across the board, Tatum has steadily remained at the top of MVP races all season long. With Jaylen Brown, he has been credited similarly to Tatum as one of the league’s best “1-2” punches, averaging 26.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists on shooting splits of 48.7/33.1/77.9. Alongside Tatum and Brown, the Celtics have built a core of talented players around them, like Marcus Smart, Al Horford, Malcolm Brogdon and Robert Williams III.

Marcus Smart is the longest-tenured Celtic of anyone on the team, having been there since 2014 where he was selected sixth overall. He is best-known for his defensive prowess on the court, having won the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year award. He also brings high energy every game, diving for loose balls and playmaking for other teammates. Al Horford was brought back last season after previously playing for the Celtics from 2016 to 2019 and has provided immense leadership and clutch plays throughout the 2022 playoffs, especially in the semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks. Malcolm Brogdon was one of the bright spots that the previous off-season brought us as he was traded to Boston from the Indiana Pacers. Despite his injury concerns and load management issues over the years, he has put together a stellar season so far – all off the bench. Averaging 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists on shooting splits of 48.0/45.6/88.6, he has contended himself for the Sixth Man of the Year award. Finally, we have Robert Williams III. Although he had an arthroscopic procedure done on his left knee during the off-season which caused him to miss much of the season, he has since come back to playing at a high level. With just as many rebounds as points, and shooting 77.2% percent from the field, he could break the single-season percentage record set by Mitchell Robinson in the 2019-2020 season, shooting 74.2%. While there are certainly more players to give their flowers to, this team has been established to repeat their finals run from last year.

I have the utmost confidence to say if everything goes right, barring injury and at least above average play, the Celtics will return to the NBA Finals and win it, giving them the 18th ring in franchise history. I predict the Celtics will beat the Denver Nuggets in six games for the 2023 NBA Finals. Only time will tell.

Post Author: Brenton Jennings