June 17, 2024

There hasn’t been anything to criticize about the 2023-24 Boston Celtics.

They had the best offensive rating in league history, finishing with a net rating 4.4 points higher than their closest challenger, and won 64 games. A Celtics team that has previously looked past inferior opponents did a much better job of staying on the gas while pulling away from the pack.

The Celtics even managed to keep their entire roster upright until the end of the season, and they should be at full strength when they open first-round play on Sunday afternoon at TD Garden against the to-be-determined eighth seed.

The only thing that can still irritate Celtics fans is the team’s inconsistency at the end of games. Boston has some of the best clutch numbers in the NBA this season, but even the players admit there is still room for improvement, especially given the number of postseason games that rely on late-game possessions.

The Celtics understand that they must still prove themselves in those circumstances.
“I think it’s to be expected. Everyone has to criticize something, and unless we prove it, and prove it at the greatest level, no one will care what we say,” said Derrick White, who is known for being a steadying presence in the most difficult of situations.

“We just have a lot of different methods to win, and different players we can put in the mix. [Jason Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kristaps Porzingis] and myself, Jrue [Holiday]. You have many various possibilities, and it’s important to have diversity. I think it would be entertaining merely to pick on different matches. What works? What’s not working? And each game is unique, which is what makes it so interesting.”

The Celtics concluded the season with the fourth greatest clutch winning percentage (63.6), going 21-12 in games that met the clutch threshold (+/- five points, final five minutes). Boston’s +15.4 net rating in the clutch was the fourth best in the NBA. Unfortunately, that doesn’t tell the complete picture of a team.

 

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