The 2023-24 Boston Celtics experienced a huge shakeup before the regular season started, with new faces coming in and franchise cornerstones getting shipped out. Yet, despite all the turnover, the Celtics developed a strong identity over the course of 82 games.

On Sunday afternoon, Boston closed out the regular season the same way it started it: with a win. The C's prevailed 132-122 over the lowly Washington Wizards, improving their record to a stellar 64-18 overall.

Regular season success isn't the end goal for the Celtics, however, their impressive win total points to the team's consistency over the past several months. Boston never lost more than two games in a row all season and seemed to always bounce back from a tough loss.

Such resilience and reliability have not always been present in the C's in recent years, and that includes seasons in which they made deep postseason runs. For instance, last year Boston went a solid 32-9 at home in the regular season and then 5-6 at TD Garden in the playoffs. In one moment, the Celtics looked destined for the NBA Finals, in the next, they appeared to be unfit for the moment.

So, how can that change in 2024? Following Boston's 82nd contest, head coach Joe Mazzulla said he believes in his team's current identity and hopes the Celtics can remain flexible in the face of postseason adversity, per CelticsBlog writer Jack Simone.

“We know exactly who we are on both sides of the ball, and also know we have the depth and the open-mindedness to adapt when necessary. The most important thing heading into a situation is having no expectations … The road there is always forgotten by the result of winning. It looks different every year … It takes what it takes.”

While the C's know the difficulties that lie ahead, they still don't know their first-round opponent yet.

Who will the Celtics play in the first round of the playoffs?

Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0), center Kristaps Porzingis (8) and guard Jaylen Brown (7) react
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With the regular season officially wrapped up, Boston sits atop the Eastern Conference standings.

Since the Celtics hold the No. 1 overall seed, they'll have homecourt throughout the playoffs and await the results of the NBA Play-In Tournament for their first-round pairing. That leaves the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, and Philadelphia 76ers to fight for the No. 8 seed and the right to play Boston.

Last postseason, Miami shocked the world by gutting it out through the Play-In and toppling the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in just five games. The Heat would then defeat a beat-up New York Knicks team and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they upset Boston in a grueling, seven-game series. Although the Heat were just minutes away from getting bounced in the Play-In, they made it all the way to the Finals, proving that the C's should take their first-round matchup seriously no matter what.

To the Celtics' credit though, they tied or won the season series against every Eastern Conference Play-In team. Reigning MVP Joel Embiid was out for much of the season for the Sixers, so their Play-In status is a bit deceiving. Meanwhile, the Hawks, Bulls, and Heat were all in the Play-In Tournament last season as well as this season.

The winner between the ninth-seeded Bulls and 10th-seeded Hawks will live to see another day, while the loser is eliminated from playoff contention. The loser between the seventh-seeded 76ers and eighth-seeded Heat will then play the winner of the Bulls-Hawks game—and whichever squad wins that third and final Play-In game will face the Celtics.

Even though Boston should be favored against any team it plays in the first round, there are no easy outs. Last season should be proof enough of that, as the middling Hawks escaped the Play-In and took the No. 2 seed Celtics to six games.

During the 2024 NBA Playoffs, the Celtics will aim to demonstrate their consistency when it matters most and remain mentally ready, no matter who they square off against.