The National Basketball Association started its regular season last Tuesday, featuring matchups of the Boston Celtics hosting the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers visiting the Golden State Warriors. The Celtics wrapped their first week of the season up with three consecutive wins, two of them coming on the road in Miami and Orlando. 

There are some major rule changes basketball lovers should take note of. During the summer, the NBA announced that they would heighten the penalty of a “transition take foul,” “a foul in which the defender does not make a play on the ball to stop a transition scoring opportunity.” Take fouls committed on transition will now result in a free throw, which can be attempted by any player on the offensive team, as well as a retained possession for them. This rule change will encourage players to work on transition defense, where, according to the NBA’s Senior Vice President overseeing referees and training Monty McCutchen, “[s]ome of our best play[s]” happen. If you have enjoyed Ja Morant’s crazy two-handed blocks above the rim or LeBron James’ iconic chase down swat, be ready to see more of those this season. 

The league has also come up with a more efficient way to indicate scoring changes, in light of the crucial cancellation of Max Strus’ three-pointer at the end of the previous Eastern Conference Finals. A blue light will now flash on the scoretable, indicating that a change has been made by the NBA Replay Center in Secaucus, New Jersey. The officials will then stop the run of play at the first “neutral opportunity,” when neither of the teams are in advantage of immediately scoring a basket, to announce the change.

In addition, bench conduct will now be monitored in a stricter manner. In recent years, players and coaches have not been shy in expressing their enthusiasm for the game. This has often resulted in interferences of the game and even unfair advantages. Notable instances include Toronto Raptors’ coach Nick Nurse lingering around the baseline during the 2020 playoffs in the bubble and Theo Pinson from Dallas Mavericks standing on the sidelines in shirts that matched their opponent’s jersey color. The NBA has promised the teams and their fans to take a closer look at similar conducts. Excessive conduct from the bench will now be penalized with a technical foul. 

On a more exciting note, the Boston Celtics finished off their first week of action with a perfect 3-0 record leading the Eastern Conference. “The Jays,” forward Jayson Tatum and swingman Jaylen Brown, continue to lead the Celtics with their elite scoring abilities, averaging almost sixty points combined per game. New addition Malcolm Brogdom has begun to prove himself with a few balanced performances, averaging 12 points and 3.7 assists off limited minutes from the bench. Power forward Noah Vonleh has also worked hard on the rebounds, taking up an important role in the Celtics’ rotation amid injuries of Robert Williams and Danilo Gallinari. 

Celtics’ interim head coach Joe Mazzulla has stepped up after the team’s suspension of head coach Ime Udoka. The Celtics’ players observed an uncommon sense of confidence from Coach Mazzulla on the opening night, which was his first NBA game as a head coach. Guard Marcus Smart shared with The Athletics, “Usually, most coaches are trying to figure things out, and he comes right in like he’s [been] doing it for years…” Coach Mazzulla boldly decided to give Noah Vonleh more minutes instead of the public projection of bigger roles for Grant Williams or Luke Kornet. The mutual trust between Coach Mazzulla and his squad has been the key to the Celtics’ first-week success. 

After visiting the Chicago Bulls for the last stop of their three-game road trip, the Celtics will host the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Washington Wizards at TD Garden this weekend. Projected as the favorite team to win the 2023 NBA championship by Sports Illustrated, the Boston Celtics strive to work together and look forward to maintaining their perfect record.