Boston Celtics Miss Shot at Championship Glory

Isabelle Larabee, Sports Editor

On Monday, May 29, 2023, the Boston Celtics had a chance to make history. Down three games to none against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA playoffs, the Celtics won the next three games to tie the series. No team in NBA history has ever managed to come back from a 3-0 deficit to win the series, and yet, the Celtics almost did. However, in Game 7 at TD Garden, the Heat blew out the Celtics 103-84, definitively ending Boston’s season. 

In the beginning, it wasn’t looking like the Celtics would even get this far. Only a few weeks before their season opener, former head coach Ime Udoka was suspended for violating team policies. Assistant coach Joe Mazzula was put in Udoka’s place, forcing the Celtics to adapt to a new coaching environment in a short period of time. Besides their defeat in the playoffs, the Celtics had a successful season. They placed second in the Eastern Conference with one of the best offenses in the NBA. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both made the NBA All-Star team and led the Celtics to play some of the best basketball Boston has seen since their last NBA championship in 2008. After these impressive results, Celtics fans thought they were going all the way. So why did they lose? 

In the beginning, it wasn’t looking like the Celtics would even get this far.

For starters, the Miami Heat, despite being the No. 8 seed, is considered a good team. Even after giving up their 3-0 lead, they remained unfazed. In several interviews, team MVP Jimmy Butler kept reassuring fans that they would get the job done. And unlike the Celtics, supporting players like Caleb Martin and Gabe Vincent came through big time when the Heat needed it most.

Additionally, in the first play of Game 7, Celtics player Jayson Tatum went up for a jump shot and landed awkwardly on his ankle. For the rest of the game, Tatum played through the injury, but was clearly uncomfortable and off his game. With Tatum injured, it was Brown’s chance to step up. But he too wasn’t at his best, resulting in several turnovers and missing shot after shot. 

By the second half of the game, the Celtics were losing by nearly 20 points. Derrick White seemed to be the only Celtics player putting up a good performance. But this one-man effort failed to save the Celtics, leaving the city of Boston with yet another championship-less year. 

After losing the NBA finals last year and the Eastern Conference finals this year, the Celtics have a lot to think about going into next season. With head coach Joe Mazzula signing a new three-year coaching contract, the Celtics have the perfect opportunity to come back from this year hungry for more. But there are high-stakes decisions to be made. Do the Celtics sign Jaylen Brown to a supermax deal, making him the ninth highest paid player in the NBA? Do they trade Marcus Smart? 

Next season could be big for the Celtics, but only if they can address the issues that prevented them from winning and demonstrate the will to solve them.