Forsberg: What’s subsequent for Celtics precisely one 12 months after epic turnaround? initially appeared on NBC Sports activities Boston
Monday marked the one-year anniversary of the Boston Celtics igniting a 2022 second-half surge that propelled them to the NBA Finals. Over the 82 video games beginning with that Jan. 23, 2022 win in Washington, Boston posted a 63-19 file for a staggering .768 profitable proportion.
We’re dishonest right here as a result of Boston’s dominance spans two completely different seasons however solely 5 groups in franchise historical past posted higher 82-game seasons. And 4 of them gained NBA titles. (The 1973 Celtics posted a franchise-best 68-14 mark, however misplaced within the Japanese Convention finals.)
So if you happen to want somewhat little bit of a palate cleanser after the Celtics endured their head-slapping third lack of the season to the Orlando Magic on Monday evening, take a step again and embrace the majesty of the earlier one year.
Why Jayson Tatum briefly took himself out of Celtics-Magic
The 2022-23 Celtics — Magic matchups not withstanding — have established themselves as one of the best workforce in basketball. Not solely does Boston personal one of the best file within the NBA, but it surely has a four-game cushion over its nearest East rival, which eases the occasional stumble in opposition to an inferior opponent.
It is nonetheless wild how a lot can change in a 12 months’s span. Earlier than Jayson Tatum’s 51-point outburst lit Boston’s fuse in opposition to the Wizards final 12 months, the largest second from the 2021-22 season had been Joe Johnson scoring a trash-time basket for the COVID-ravaged Celtics.
The primary half of final season featured scorching takes on whether or not Tatum and Jaylen Brown might really thrive collectively and far handwringing over coach Ime Udoka’s agency phrases for his inconsistent workforce. In between all of it, we watched guys like Evan Fournier have unlikely revenge video games whereas the Celtics lingered three video games underneath .500 and sat exterior the play-in bracket close to the midpoint of final season.
Quick ahead to the current and issues are loads completely different. The Jays are thriving individually and as a pair. Tatum is an MVP favourite, Brown has performed at an All-NBA stage, which might open the door to a long-term extension this summer time. Brad Stevens has constructed a deep, championship-caliber roster. Joe Mazzulla has dutifully steered the ship ahead after an Udoka scandal threatened to ship issues sideway earlier than the beginning of the brand new season.
We now fill time questioning issues like, do the Celtics should make a transfer to strengthen the ninth man on their roster as a result of Sam Hauser has slumped after a blistering begin to the season?
Celtics Speak: Do the Celtics must make a commerce? Pondering Brad Stevens’ deadline conundrum | Hear & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube
Sure, issues are fairly good in Celtics Land. We will fret about Tatum’s minutes complete and the left wrist harm that has nagged him for practically a full 12 months now. We will fear about how Boston hasn’t all the time responded nicely in opposition to groups with dimension and physicality.
Alas, Boston is an NBA-best 17-5 versus groups above .500. A 12 months after struggling mightily in crunch-time conditions, the Celtics are 15-5 in that state of affairs (rating inside 5 factors within the closing 5 minutes) this 12 months, the second-best mark within the league behind solely the Nets.
We’ll proceed to obsess in regards to the roster, even when it feels like every addition would largely be to assist tempo the workforce to the end line of the common season. The workforce nonetheless has sufficient property to make a little bit of a splurge, perhaps including a playoff-ready wing to restrict the general put on and tear on the Jays, or searching for a giant that may assist guarantee Al Horford and Robert Williams III keep upright.
However even within the absence of a transfer, the Celtics challenge to have a sturdy eight-man playoff rotation. Further depth may be a luxurious, however insurance coverage would not be the worst concept for a workforce that is routinely needed to take care of accidents at inopportune occasions.
Few might have envisioned how the final one year have performed out. The Celtics had a whole lot of query marks this time final 12 months, at the same time as they began to launch. Stevens quietly made an eyebrow-raising transfer on the deadline by buying Derrick White and eradicated a lot of Boston’s roster litter, which aided the workforce’s rise.
Now Stevens may be in search of the ultimate items of this puzzle. Possibly that is so simple as scooping one of the best obtainable physique off the buyout scrap heap. Possibly it means being a bit extra aggressive with the Celtics firmly entrenched as a favourite title.
The previous 12 months has been crammed with success. However developing brief within the Finals continues to drive the 2022-23 model of this membership. You do not cling banners for the success of a workforce between January and January.
The story of those Celtics can be whether or not they had been capable of make progress from June to June.