When the Boston Celtics walked off the Garden floor at the end of the 2023 season, the questions that followed the team were many. The only positive output was a championship. So what now?  

With the third pick in the 2016 NBA draft, Boston selected Jaylen Brown. One year later, Danny Ainge worked his magic again pulling Jayson Tatum with the third pick. The next five seasons for Boston saw the C’s lose twice in the conference finals, and once in the NBA Finals to Golden State. Brad Stevens went from head coach to General Manager. So what would it take to raise banner 18?

Wyc Grousebeck, governor of the Celtics, gave Brad Stevens the freedom to do whatever he needed to raise number 18. Knowing the Celtics needed another finisher to help Tatum and Brown, he traded the heartbeat of the Celtics– the fan favorite, Marcus Smart. He turned Smart into Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday. He did so with little to no national buzz, just how he wanted it.

The Celtics entered 2024 as one of the favorites. Throughout the season they were the best team in the Eastern Conference and in many circles, the NBA. They plowed through the Eastern Conference playoffs, defeating Miami, Cleveland, and Indiana. 

There was no way the water downed and the injury riddled Eastern conference could produce a competitive team that could contend with any team from the wild and much deeper West. Dallas was the final challenge and much like the whole season, the Celtics rose to the occasion and placed an 18th banner high atop the garden parquet.  

The Celtics answered all the questions. Tatum and Brown can play together and win a championship. I wondered if Joe Mazzulla could handle NBA coaching. He was put in a no-win situation last season having to replace Ime Udoka right before the season. Brad and Wyc surrounded him with a magnificent staff and the growth of Coach Mazzula was evident throughout the entire regular and postseason.

The addition of Porzingis opened the court and gave the Celtics another late game option and  rim defender. I am not sure what scares me more–Derrick White with a shot to win the game or having him defending me with the game on the line.  Personally, White felt he was the most valuable player all season for the Green. The “toolbox” Jrue Holiday just does something different every night to help you win. It was by the veteran leadership of Al Horford, and solid bench play  made the Boston Celtics World Champions, 18 times over.

Just days have passed since the last piece of confetti fell on the Garden floor, and the Celtics are building for banner 19.  

The NBA off-season has begun. Much like always, it is a wild ride and everyone will be gunning for the Champs come October. But for now, as Red, Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em.

Written by:

You may remember Mack from his time as a Hornet on the Lyndon State College baseball team. From there, he spent some time at WINY, WWLR as Sports Director, and WDEV where he worked with NASCAR legend Ken Squire. Mack is married with a full baseball starting lineup of kids.