After numerous trips to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Boston Celtics returned to the NBA Finals last season, the first since their 2009-2010 finals matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Celtics matched well with the Golden State Warriors, but Stephen Curry and company defied expectations to capture their fourth ring in eight years.
Now, the Celtics have a 49-23 regular season record with 12 games to go, putting them second in the Atlantic Division and third in the Eastern Conference ladder. With that said, let’s take a look at three reasons why the Celtics can successfully secure the title come the 2023 NBA Finals.
Here are the NBA Finals odds, courtesy of FanDuel
NBA Finals: Boston Celtics Odds
Outright Betting Odds: +320
NBA Finalists 2022-2023
Vs Phoenix Suns: +850
Vs Denver Nuggets: +950
Vs Los Angeles Clippers: +1300
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3 reasons the Boston Celtics will win the 2023 NBA Finals
1. Hard-nosed defense pays off
For such a high-quality team like the Celtics, it's much more impressive that their players can play on the defensive end as well. The C's are grabbing 45.1 rebounds (7th in the league), as well as 5.2 blocks (8th) and 6.4 steals (29th).
The Celtics are also allowing opponents to shoot just 46.5% from the field, 35.3% from downtown, and 77.2% from the line. These metrics are the fifth, eighth, and fifth-best marks in the league. As a team, Boston allows their opponent to produce just 111.2 points per game, making their defensive rating the fourth-best in the league. Their +5.5 net rating is the second-best among the 30 NBA teams, with the Cleveland Cavaliers barely edging them out with a +0.3 advantage.
Viewers, fans, and analysts laud Boston's defensive adjustments this season. They know when to switch, trap, and identify mismatches, as well as make deflections, steals, blocks, and charges. Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart is a defensive menace, while young stars Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum can certainly hold their own in the defensive end, averaging nearly one block and one steal per ball game. Robert Williams III is making a case for an All-NBA Defense honor, and the likes of Derrick White, Payton Pritchard, Grant Williams, and Malcolm Brogdon are pesky defenders, too. Also, Luke Kornet's Contest, known as the Eclipse, is making waves as an effective defensive move that has been proven effective as well.
2. All-Around Offense
Like other NBA teams, the Celtics also had to cut some players off their roster and make some interesting signings. The likes of Aaron Nesmith, Daniel Theis, Noah Vonleh, and Justin Jackson departed from the team because of their limited playing time. In turn, Boston signed the likes of Malcolm Brogdon, Mike Muscala, Luke Kornet, Sam Hauser, and Blake Griffin to bolster their frontline's strength.
It's not enough that these big NBA names on paper would immediately impact the team on the hardwood. However, Boston's approach this season has indeed made their depth chart one of the deepest in the league. Their starting unit is averaging 85.4 points and 19.3 assists, both belonging in the top-four mark this season. Aside from their effective Smart-Brown-Tatum-Horford-Williams starting unit, their bench is also capable of matching with even some of the starting fives of other NBA teams.
Boston has the fourth-best offense in the league, averaging 117.6 points per game. As a team, they're shooting 47.3% from the field, 37.6% from beyond the arc, and 81.9% from the charity stripe. Boston has six players averaging double-digit points, with their bench unit averaging 32.2 points and 7.0 assists per game.
3. Jayson Tatum-Jaylen Brown duo
With 361 games playing together, this season seems to be the best one for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
A combined six All-Star appearances and four Eastern Conference Finals berths show that the young duo has been making tremendous waves in their young NBA career. They were guided by numerous veterans in their careers and were managed by amazing coaches like Brad Stevens, Ime Udoka, and Joe Mazzulla. They surely know how to perform under pressure, as their Eastern Finals trips featured their matchups against LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Jimmy Butler, and Bam Adebayo.
Jaylen Brown has been putting in 26.7 points, 6.9 boards, 3.4 dimes, and 1.2 steals in 60 games played this season, including 11 double-doubles. Meanwhile, Jayson Tatum is averaging 30.0 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.0 steals per ball game, tallying 30 double-doubles and a 29-14-10 triple-double last January.
Although Brown and Tatum are still 26 and 25 years young, this feels like their best chance of punching their way to the Finals to give Boston its 18th NBA Championship. With a two-way team playstyle and a 12-man deep roster that meshes well with their playstyle, Boston is definitely in a good position to win a title this season.