How close are the Boston Celtics to making a hopeful run for the NBA Finals?

The Celtics earned wins against the Atlanta Hawks and the Philadelphia 76ers in the first two rounds of the NBA playoffs before they faced the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Though they came close to a series win as they fought back from a 3-0 deficit, the Celtics fell in a 103-84 loss to the Heat at TD Garden in Game 7. Celtics forward Jaylen Brown scored 19 points and hit eight of his 23 shot attempts in 43 minutes. Guard Derrick White added 18 as he made five of his 12 tries from the field.

“The hole we put ourselves in, it's hard. No one's climbed out of that hole,” guard Malcolm Brogdon said, via the Associated Press. “It was the same tonight: We couldn't climb out of the hole we created.

“I thought we showed how resilient we were, how good of a team we are, climbing out of it partially. But not being able to finish it on your home floor? That's super disappointing.”

What is the most significant need the Celtics will need to address before the 2023-24 season starts? And will they be able to do enough to make a push for the NBA Finals next year?

Finding Bigs on a Budget

The Celtics will likely add some extra size and depth at the power forward and the center spots.

The Celtics combined for 43.1 rebounds per game during the postseason, good enough to take ninth place among teams that made the playoffs and two spots over the Heat, according to Boston rebounded well during the regular season, taking seventh place in the league with 45.3 per game.

Centers Al Horford and Robert Williams III are listed on Spotrac's 2023-24 Salary Cap grid for the Celtics. Center Mike Muscala is listed with a club option for the 2023-24 season. Forwards Jayson Tatum and Danilo Gallinari are the only two power forwards on Spotrac's list. Gallinari has a player option for the 2023-24 season. Forward Grant Williams is listed as a restricted free agent in 2023. Forward Blake Griffin is listed as an unrestricted free agent.

Gallinari released a statement over Twitter on Wednesday.

“My 15th season in NBA is over,” Gallinari wrote, via MassLive. “I would have liked to play. I would have liked to have debuted in this jersey in front of these amazing fans. I would have liked to help my teammates. And I would have liked to have seen us until the end.

“It will take a while to accept this defeat. We believed in it until the last minute and gave everything as a group. From tomorrow the head and legs will work to prepare for next season. Season number 16 in a league that always knows how to give me emotions that I will never get used to.”

Boston can try to bring back Williams or Griffin, or it can turn to its Taxpayer Mid-Level or Bi-Annual exceptions to add some budget options in the offseason. They can also turn to their No. 35 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft for a player who can potentially contribute immediately or take a risk on a boom-or-bust big.

Either way, the Celtics will have plenty of adjustments to make before the start of the 2023-24 season.

Here's hoping they can come back stronger next year.