Driscoll: The 2023-24 Boston Celtics Had One of the Best Seasons Ever

NBA - Boston Celtics - Jayson Tatum

It has been over a week since the Boston Celtics won their 18th title. This core has been through a whole lot. They have also faced extremely unfair coverage through the years.

For years, fans and media have been saying nonsense regarding this team. We’ve heard “Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown cannot co-exist” and “Tatum will never be the No. 1 on a championship team.” We’ve also heard things like “Brown is extremely overpaid; he can’t go left” or “Jrue Holiday and Al Horford are way too old” or “the Celtics will not be able to win the title without Kristaps Porzingis.”

Boston’s head coach was no exception. “Joe Mazzula is awful,” critics alleged. “He should have never been promoted and the Celtics would be so much better off with Ime Udoka.”


Well, the Celtics did it. Tatum proved he is that guy who can lead a team to a title while Brown showed everyone how much he deserved his new contract. (Told you so.) “Big Al” Horford finally got his ring in Year 17.

Not only did the Celtics win the title, but they did it in one of the most dominant fashions ever. This was objectively one of the greatest teams ever.


Reason #1: One of the Best Regular Seasons Ever

By pretty much every important metric, the 2024 Celtics are near the top of the list. One of the most well-known metrics is net rating. This is essentially how many points per 100 possessions you outscore your opponent. Boston’s net rating was 11.6. This was good enough to rank third all-time. Who were the two teams ahead of them? They were the Chicago Bulls in the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons. Who was their best player? A guy named Michael Jordan; you may have heard of him before.

“Oh, but they played in the East and had no competition. Of course, they are going to play great!” In addition to net rating, my favorite team stat is the Simple Rating System (SRS). This factors in both net rating and strength of schedule. This Celtics team finished fifth all-time in this category. 

Who were the four teams ahead of them? The 1970-71 Bucks were first. They were led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson. Abdul-Jabbar is probably the third-best player of all time, and Robertson is debatably top-15. The 1995-96 Bulls were second. This team was led by Jordan and finished with 72 wins. The 1971-72 Lakers finished third. They were led by Wilt Chamberlain, whom many consider to be a top-five player, and Jerry West, whom many view inside the top 12. The last team ahead of the 2024 Celtics was the 2016-17 Warriors. They won 73 games the year before and added the second-best player in the league the year after.

The Celtics dominated the regular season at an all-time rate, and there is no other way to put it. Even if you want to factor in the fact that the Celtics played in a weak conference, you can’t ignore that they took care of business when they needed to. They showed everyone that they were the best team all season.


Reason #2: The Celtics’ Extremely Dominant Playoff Run

After losing to the Cavaliers in Game 2 of Round 2, the Celtics did not lose for another month. They won Games 3-5, swept the Pacers in the Conference Finals, and went up 3-0 on the Mavericks in the NBA Finals. Many thought it would end in a sweep, but the Mavericks could not miss a shot in Game 4. Did this affect them negatively? Not at all. They did what they have been doing all year long. After getting punched in the face, they punched back harder and destroyed the Mavericks in Game 5.

The Celtics finished 16-3 in the playoffs. Since every playoff series took on a best-of-seven format in 2003, only one team (the 2017 Warriors) won the NBA Finals in fewer games than the Celtics. (That Warriors team went 16-1). 

The primary argument you will hear against the Celtics being one of the best teams of all-time is that they got to face mostly injured teams in the East in the playoffs. There are a couple of points to rebut that.

First, the Celtics were without their star center, Porzingis, for the majority of the playoffs. Even though they were still awesome without him, Game 1 showed how important he was to the team. His presence opens up another few pages in the offensive playbook, and he provides elite rim defense for a team that lacks big-man depth. The Celtics would not have been excused if they lost or were even challenged in any of the series in the East without Porzingis, so neither should the other teams.

But even if this were not the case, the Celtics cannot control who they face in the playoffs. They dominated every team that was in front of them. Who cares if none of those teams were that good?

Reason #3: One of the Best-Built Starting Fives of All-Time

The 2022-23 Celtics had debatably the league’s best top six-man rotation with Tatum, Brown, Marcus Smart, Derrick White, Al Horford, and Malcolm Brogdon. (Robert Williams III would have been in the top six but he was hurt most of the year. He was also a shell of himself in the playoffs.)

Shoutout to Brad Stevens for making the necessary moves and converting this to one of the best groups of all time with Tatum, Brown, Porzingis, Holiday, White, and Horford. 

Take out the fact that Tatum is top-five, Brown is top-15, and the rest of the starting five are probably around top-40. All six of these players can shoot the three ball well and can switch onto any player on the defensive end. When their three balls were falling and their defense was clicking (it pretty much always was), there was virtually no way to beat them.

Reason #4: Celtics’ Elite Front Office and Coaching Staff

It is good to know that both of these departments are finally getting their flowers. After a swarm of fans called for Stevens to be fired as head coach, ownership doubled down and promoted him when Danny Ainge decided to resign. (Ainghe deserves a ton of credit for this ring, of course.) 

Stevens has made some awesome moves since taking over, including trading Kemba Walker to bring Horford back, acquiring Brogdon (who resulted in Jrue Holiday) for scraps, and risking it all by trading fan favorites Smart and Williams III for Porzingis and Holiday.

Don’t let anyone revise history; these were not slam-dunk trades. In fact, a ton of Celtics fans were upset about trading Marcus Smart. Furthermore, many NBA fans thought giving up Williams III and Brogdon was too much for an aging Holiday.

Furthermore, the coaching staff deserves extensive credit. After so many people wanted Joe Mazzula gone following last season, he bounced back in a big way. He became much more confident in himself, made more in-game adjustments, and got all the players to buy into his system. You can also credit Mazzula’s growth to the awesome coaching staff he brought in, led by Charles Lee and Sam Cassell. They meshed together and brought the best out in every player. Most fans were concerned about the Celtics’ depth heading into the season, myself included. But Payton Pritchard, Sam Hauser, and Luke Kornet all assumed their roles well and played a huge part in winning the title.


I truly do not think enough people are appreciating what we just witnessed. This was one of the best seasons of all-time. Why does it matter that there is no all-time great player (yet) on the team? Who cares that the head coach is not one of the best ever? At the end of the day, this was a team that came together, played perfect team basketball, and showed everyone who was boss — all season long.

So if you want to put some of the other all-time great teams ahead of them because they had more star power, that’s fine. However, factoring in the best front office in the league, a head coach who implemented an elite system, a staff that got the best out of every player, two stars who complement each other flawlessly, one of the best starting lineups out there, and a bench that played perfect in their roles, there are very few teams ever that would top the 2023-24 Boston Celtics.

Main Image Credit:

Embed from Getty Images


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