Boston Celtics stay dominant as All-Star break approaches
Jayson Tatum and the Celtics currently hold an NBA-best 35-12 record, and look to return to the finals after falling short last season.
Led by star players Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the Boston Celtics are looking to return to the NBA Finals and claim the trophy that eluded them last season. With a mixture of young and old talent, the Celtics have been pegged as the title favorites for this year.
Before the season began, the Celtics suspended their head coach, Ime Udoka, after it was revealed that he had had an intimate relationship with a team employee. For many organizations, this would spell doom, but the Celtics did not let these external variables control their on-court performance. The Green promoted then assistant coach, Joe Mazzula, to interim head coach for the 2022-23 campaign. The team rallied around Mazzula and started the season off blazing hot and have continued their success so far. With no signs of stopping, the Celtics are looking even better than they did last season.
Tatum, who was a first-team All-NBA player last year, has stepped up his game exponentially. Averaging a ridiculous 31.2 points per game, Tatum is among the top players in contention for the MVP award this season. His partner in crime, Jaylen Brown, has also cemented himself as one of the best two-way players around the association. With the All-Star break less than a month away and a majority of the votes accounted for, it looks like the Jays from Boston will be representing the Green in Chicago. But the talent on this roster goes far beyond their two star players: Marcus Smart, Grant Williams, Al Horford, and Malcolm Brogdon have given the team a spark of life that has carried them to the top of the Eastern Conference.
Like every team though, injuries can plague a season. In their Jan 21. match-up vs. the Toronto Raptors, Smart and Robert Williams went down with leg injuries. Celtics fans feared the worst as Smart and Williams are some of the best defensive players in the league. Fortunately, the injuries do not look to be too serious. Williams suffered a hyperextended knee, and Smart sustained a high ankle sprain. Mazzula told reporters that they will take these injuries “day-to-day” and allow the players to return at their own pace. Bolstering an NBA-best 35-12 record, the Celtics are preparing for bigger and better things. Allowing these key players to return at full capacity will help them as they look to make a deep run in playoffs.
Even though the Celtics have dominated the first half of the season, there is still a lot to go and a lot that can happen. The Philadelphia 76ers are only four and a half games behind the Celtics and would love the opportunity to knock off their conference rivals from the top spot. Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks will be welcoming All-Star forward Kris Middleton back to their line-up soon and could make a serious push from third. Not to mention the Brooklyn Nets, led by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who currently sit in fourth position in the Eastern Conference. Every organization is looking at the Celtics as the top contenders and will bring their A game in every match-up against them.
Complacency has not been the message in the Celtics locker room. Veteran forward Blake Griffin has commended his team for their mindset and determination throughout the season. In an interview with NBC Boston, Griffin told reporters that he was impressed with the level of maturity shown by his teammates and coaches. Griffin, who is a six-time All-Star, believes that the team is ready and capable of doing big things.
The NBA season is long and straining, but with a cast as strong and committed as the Celtics, the sky is the limit. The Celtics will return to action Jan. 24 as they square off against the Miami Heat.