NBA Scout talks about Celtics Hot Start to Season

NBA Analytics Network

Going into the 2022-23 NBA season, there was some concern that the Boston Celtics would struggle to match last season’s success. They already had some injuries, as Robert Williams III and Danilo Gallinari both had to undergo knee surgery.

While Williams is expected back in the second half of the season, Gallinari could miss the entire season with an ACL tear.

The loss of depth in the frontcourt hurts, but the team also underwent a coaching staff change with head coach Ime Udoka suspended for at least the season. He was replaced by assistant Joe Mazzulla, who keeps things running.

Boston failed to repeat their success from last season as they ran to the NBA Finals. Instead, they have surpassed what they achieved last season as they have the best record in the NBA at 21-5.

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Mazzulla did a great job taking what Udoka had achieved and improving it. He received high praise from an NBA scout who spoke to NBA Analysis Network about the Celtics’ hot start.

“Joe Mazzulla has done a fantastic job. He has that team’s full buy-in and they move the ball with the intention of making the right play. They have that balance of chasing mismatches to get the look of their best guys with an actual half court flow as a group. They have a great winning formula that will be hard to stop in the playoffs.

There were times last season when Boston relied too heavily on isolation basketball. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown didn’t get their teammates involved enough as they were 18-21 after leading by 24 points. Since then they have been by far the best team in the NBA.

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The Celtics finished the regular season with a 33-10 run and advanced to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Golden State Warriors. They have a historic offensive season, led by Tatum and Brown with outstanding contributions by the entire team.

“It’s easy to look at the top of the roster and focus on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. They deserve a lot of credit, but there’s more to the Celtics’ success than that. They’ve done a great job surrounding those guys with players who can shoot at a high clip and attack closeouts to get to the rim or make the right play with the pass. That may sound like an oversimplification, but it’s amazing how many teams have players who can only do one or two things with glaring holes in their game. Boston doesn’t have that, and when you have a stretch five like Al Horford, that opens up a lot for the whole offense to maximize those strengths.

There are 11 players in the team with an average of at least 5.0 points per game. Five players shoot a minimum of 42.7 percent from 3-point range and make more than one 3-pointer per game, and no rotation player currently shoots below 45 percent from the field.

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This roster was beautifully curated by Brad Stevens as he identified specific off-season needs and upgraded them with smart moves. This is a squad ready to compete again and it’s hard to imagine anyone beating them in a seven game run if they continued to play at such a high level.

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