Despite their issues in the dugout, Boston Celtics remain on course to reclaim their record as the most successful team in NBA history. 2022/23 had all started so positively for the team, who were among the favorites for success at the end of another long campaign.
Ime Udoka was in charge of last year’s beaten finalists. He was tipped to take Boston all the way this time while picking up the coach of the season award in the process.
Then it all went wrong. Udoka suspended for off-court reasons and Joe Mazzulla named as interim coach. The arrangement is for a set period of 12 months, but could it possibly harm the Celtics’ chances of claiming a record 18th NBA pennant?
Interim Coach Mazzulla has led his Boston Celtics team to the fastest start of any NBA franchise this season. After 24 games of the 2022/23 term, Boston head the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division with a record of 19-5.
Trailing in the Celtics’ wake are the Philadelphia 76ers and the Toronto Raptors who each have a 12-11 return. That record is the best of any team across the entire NBA at this point in the campaign, and it’s a glowing testament to the roster and their interim coach.
Few fans are in any doubt that Joe Mazzulla deserves the job on a permanent basis, but can he take Boston all the way in his first season in charge?
Homing in on Championship Number 18
Having started the new season among the chasing pack, the Boston Celtics have recently been installed as the favorites to win the NBA this season. Coach Mazzulla and his men lead the way from the Milwaukee Bucks, the Phoenix Suns and the Golden State Warriors who are expected to provide the strongest challenges.
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Time to Settle the Equation
When Ime Udoka was removed from his role, there was a danger that the Celtics’ season could have been derailed. On the eve of a new campaign, no change is ever ideal, but the loss of a highly talented coach was potentially fatal to a title challenge.
It is, therefore, to Joe Mazzulla’s credit that Boston have performed so well since he took on the role. Without going into details of the suspension or the arrangements at TD Garden, it may seem that the situation won’t be resolved until the full 12 months is up.
Could Udoka force an early settlement? He’s already been linked with the job at Brooklyn Nets and some sources say that this is a done deal. The Brooklyn Nets may have to wait to hire Udoka until it’s confirmed, but the story makes sense.
Brooklyn parted company with Steve Nash earlier in the season and, while they’ve since promoted Jacques Vaughn from within the ranks, he may just be keeping the seat warm for Ime Udoka.
There is, of course, an opportunity for Ime Udoka to return to the Boston Celtics, but would either party want to take it up? There is a sense among fans that Boston and Udoka have both moved on and an NBA Championship under Joe Mazzulla would certainly cement that theory.