The new-look Celtics are closer than ever to an 18th title

Boston Celtics (Photo by Nick Grace/Getty Images)
Boston Celtics (Photo by Nick Grace/Getty Images) /
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Boston Celtics. NBA.
Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

Why the Celtics needed a change.

After years of sitting on the fence, Boston moved Smart. Despite it being rumored more than ever, once Stevens stepped into office, it became the toughest decision and biggest swing the former coach has had to make in the role. The two were beside each other for nearly their whole NBA careers.

The Celtics desperately needed roster balance. Al Horford’s production in his second Boston tenure has been a miracle at this age with the heavy load he has had to face in their two deep runs. The second-ranked league leader in three-point percentage during the regular season’s legs went in the ECF as Horford went completely cold despite the crucial defense.

Robert Williams is still a major domino toward Boston reaching the summit in this title desperation. But he has not shown the capability of maintaining any sort of durability, as his health issues have not gone away. A strongly defensive frontcourt that had a bit of a ceiling.

Boston had a bundle of key complementary guards on their depth chart that happened to be inappropriately limited. It became glaring at crucial moments. Sixth Man of the Year Brogdon, Derrick White, who, in his first full season with the team, turned into Boston’s third-best and most effective player Payton Pritchard was also harshly placed out of the rotation after he was a key contributor for the C’s bench in their Finals’ run.

Mazzulla was alerted to his new gig just days before training camp last September and tossed in with Ime Udoka’s staff. On paper, the Celtics arguably had the best roster in the league. Mazzulla, despite being behind the bench for multiple years and knowing the core well, had not a lick of head coaching experience, let alone in the NBA.