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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Celtics’ Finals Loss Could Kickstart A Future Dynasty

  • It starts with the success of former coach and new GM Brad Stevens.
  • The rest trickles down to head coach Ime Udoka and a young roster led by Jayson Tatum.
Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

The Warriors might’ve given them a bitter pill to swallow, but the young Celtics should take heart from an inspiring, overachieving season that might just have kickstarted their own future dynasty.

Boston exceeded expectations in even making the Finals. They went from being the 11th seed in January to play their first title series since 2008 — and taking out Giannis Antetokounmpo’s defending champion Bucks along the way.  

It starts with the success of former coach and new GM Brad Stevens, whose calculated risks kept together the star tandem of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown while reestablishing a defensive identity with a young team (25.8 YRS) on the NBA’s 10th-highest payroll ($138M).

  • Tatum finished first in postseason points (615) and assists (148), and won Eastern Conference Finals MVP.
  • Brown averaged a playoff career-high 23.1 PPG (37.3% 3PT).
  • Stevens reacquired Al Horford, re-signed Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, and hired first-year coach Ime Udoka, all of whom contributed to the league’s best defense (106.2 RTG).

And Boston’s core might stay in town for the foreseeable future.

Brown ($26.8M) can become a free agent in 2024, but Tatum ($28.1M), Smart ($14.3M), and Robert Williams ($3.6M) will remain intact through 2026 if Tatum signs his $37 million player option that year.

Before the season, the Celtics had the 13th-best odds to win it all (+4000). Entering 2022-23, they’re tied (+600) with the Nets, Clippers, and Warriors for the best odds to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

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