The Collapse of the Celtics


Jimmy Butler shooting over Jayson Tatum: David Butler USA Today

John Murray, Staff Writer

Although the 2022 N.B.A Finals were bitter for Celtics fans, there was a lot to be optimistic about for the future of the team. They had a promising rookie head coach and two bright young stars about to enter their prime in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. However, after the end of the 2023 season, basketball in Boston looks bleak as the team has seen a regression. 

Many factors led to the collapse of the Celtics, the first of which can be traced back to before the season started. Prior to the start of the regular season, fans were informed that the rookie coach that led to the finals Ime Udoka was fired for reasons that are still fairly unclear. Ime Udoka was fired for reasons that are still fairly unclear.  His replacement was 34-year-old Joe Mazzula who had little coaching experience compared to the average NBA head coach. At the start of the season, Mazzula looked like a perfect fit, but as the playoffs rolled around, his inexperience was noticeable. The Celtics would let up huge runs, but no timeouts would be taken and the team did not adjust properly. On the other side of the court, Erik Spoelstra the head coach for the Heat would have a short leash on his players and the Heat looked disciplined. 

A collapse is not just caused by one event however, during the Eastern Conference Finals the Celtics went down 3-0 with three unenthusiastic performances. An 0-3 deficit gives the Celtics no margin for error and the odds stacked against them. Going into the series, teams were 0-150 down 3-0 in an NBA playoff series. However, if there ever was  going to be it would be a series with this much talent disparity.  Although the talent disparity is large the Heat are a confident and mentally tough squad. This confidence was mirrored by local Heat fan and Hingham High junior Marlin Koch, when asked if he thought the Heat would blow a 3-0 lead, he replied, “No, I never had a doubt”. Although the Celtics won three straight games to force a home-court game seven, a Tatum ankle injury took the energy out of the player and the Celtics showed their mental weakness. Meanwhile, role players like Caleb Martin torched the Celtics en route to a blowout win for Miami.   

Looking forward to the offseason, there are many question marks surrounding the Celtics and their chase for Banner 18. However, one of these questions has already been answered. Celtics General Manager Brad Stevens confirmed that Joe Mazzula would be the head coach next season. There is some hope that Mazzula can get on the right track as he did take the team to the Eastern Conference Finals and a game seven which is impressive for a rookie head coach. The other uncertainty is the contract of Jaylen Brown, who played below average in a win-or-go-home game seven vs. the Heat. He is up for a large contract next year, but he has been frustrated with the team, and reports have come out signifying his relationship with his teammates has soured. Until then the Celtics need to improve their roster to make them true title contenders. When asked what offseason moves the Celtics should make, Junior Jack Eilson made a radical claim “We should trade Jayson Tatum for the role players of 2018 like Jay Crowder and Terry Rozier”.

Picture of Jaylen Brown by Kyle Hightower (