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Joe Mazzulla, Celtics off to strong begin to 2022-23 NBA season despite turbulent offseason

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If the Boston Celtics got off to a shaky start this season, it would not have come as a surprise to many given the tumultuous offseason that that they had. After coming two wins in need of an NBA title in June, the Celtics suspended head coach Ime Udoka for a season for violations of team policies and replaced him with a man in Joe Mazzulla who had exactly zero head coaching experience on the NBA level. 

Upon his promotion, Mazzulla, who has been an assistant in Boston since 2019, immediately became the youngest coach within the NBA — a troublesome task for a coach of any team, especially one facing legitimate, lofty title aspirations. Such a sudden shakeup is not necessarily a simple thing for a team to beat, especially because the news of Udoka’s suspension was jarring to the players, with a lot of them checking out as their fans did on social media. The Celtics were even classified as a “team in disarray” by some heading into the present campaign. 

So, Boston had a little bit of a built-in excuse for early-season struggles. Through two games, though, they have not needed an excuse in any respect, as they’ve picked up where they left off last season once they were in a position to advance all over the Eastern Conference. Of their first game of the season, they thoroughly outplayed the Philadelphia 76ers — a team that entered the season with lots of championship hype. That game was tied at halftime, but Boston outscored Philadelphia 35-25 within the third quarter, after which never looked back, ultimately pulling out a 126-117 victory, thanks largely to the dynamic duo of J’s — Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown — who each scored 35 points against the Sixers. 

Boston’s second game of the season got here on Friday night against the Miami Heat — a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference finals, which stretched all of the solution to a seventh game. Boston got here out victorious in that series, and the result was the identical on Friday. On this one, Tatum scored 29 points while Brown tallied 28, and as a team, the Celtics shot over 50 percent from the ground for the second straight game. The Heat had no answers defensively for Boston, and the story was similar for Philadelphia. Boston’s offense has been humming, They’ve the league’s highest-rated offense through the primary 4 nights of the season and have been essentially the most efficient shooting team. 

Together, Tatum and Brown have been playing in addition to any duo within the league, and any calls for Boston to interrupt them up feel like eons ago. Also, Malcolm Brogdon, the team’s prized offseason addition, has played well in big minutes off of the bench in each games. The Celtics haven’t only began the season off 2-0, but their wins got here against two other elite Eastern Conference contenders and without their starting center Robert Williams, who’s sidelined following offseason knee surgery. It isn’t entirely clear when Williams is anticipated to return to game motion at this time limit, but when he does Boston will get an instantaneous boost on each ends of the ground. Plus, their depth will likely be bolstered. 

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It’s entirely too early to attract any conclusions on the young season, but what the Celtics have done up to now is impressive, given their current sideline situation, and the team definitely appears to be taking to the brand new lead shot-caller. 

“Joe is hard as nails,” Brown said of Mazzulla. “Even when within the midst of all the things, all of the turmoil, if you looked into his eyes, you could possibly tell he was ready. Coming out, you bought to see it on the ground: composed, calm, ready, strategic. So I’m looking forward to seeing more from him, and I’m looking forward to constructing that relationship.”

“The thing that I like about Joe and admire about him is that he’s very honest that he doesn’t know all the things,” Tatum added. “He wants us to assist him out as much as he’s helping us out. It’s like we’re in a relationship, and we’re all on the identical page and trying to perform the identical thing. We’re all on this together.”

Normally, when a latest coach has the respect of the team’s star players, that is a solid sign of things to come back. The Celtics made it all of the solution to the NBA Finals with a first-time head coach last season, so who’s to say they cannot do it again? Obviously, we’re getting slightly ahead of ourselves there, but up to now, so good for the Celtics this season. They definitely have not looked like a team tarnished by turmoil. 

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