While basketball’s undoubtedly an international sport, there’s one league in the world that stands head and shoulders above all others.
The NBA has been in existence since 1946 when the Basketball Association of America was founded. Three years later it became the National Basketball Association following a merger with the National Basketball League.
Today, many millions of fans, both in the US and worldwide, follow the 30 teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences, each one hoping theirs will be the one to win the end-of-season playoffs which conclude in June of each year.
Certain teams are more dominant than others and it’s these whose names are best known, even among only casual fans of the sport. For example the LA Lakers are a team that most people could name – and another is the Boston Celtics.
The best of all time?
The Celtics have a long and proud history that goes right back to 1946 when they were one of the eight founding members of the Basketball Association of America. In the subsequent 77 years they have won more matches than any other team. They have also equalled their arch rivals from the West Coast, the Lakers, by winning the NBA championships no less than 17 times.
The late 1950s and 60s was a period of real domination for the team, and one in which they won eleven championships in thirteen seasons including eight straight victories in a row.
To bring it up to date, last season saw the appointment of Joe Mazzulla as head coach of the team, replacing Ime Udoka.
They finished the regular season in second place of the Eastern Conference with a 57-25 win/loss record, earning themselves a second seed place in the playoffs. Always a favourite in the NBA odds, they did seem to falter in the first couple of rounds, taking six and seven games respectively to see off the Atlanta Hawks and the Philadelphia 76ers.
In the next round they found themselves up against another of their famous rivals, the Miami Heat. Despite going 3-0 down, the Celtics showed their fighting spirit by winning the next three games in a row.
This was only the fourth time in NBA history that a team had been able to overcome such a large deficit to square a series. But, unfortunately, the Heat were ultimately too strong for them recording a 103-84 defeat in game seven taking them into the final, which they lost 1-4 to the Denver Nuggets.
This season, which began in October, has seen the Celtics make a very good start. Kicking off with a 108-104 win over the New York Knicks they followed it up a week later by getting revenge on the Miami Heat with a 119-111 victory.
Further wins against the Indiana Pacers and the Brookly Nets followed, both by fairly convincing margins.
However, the next two matches weren’t quite so successful with a couple of narrow defeats by the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Nevertheless, it seems like the Celtics are in a strong position, already occupying their customary position near the top of the Eastern Conference, with a solid roster of players more than capable of keeping them there.
Key team members
Among the top-quality squad there are an number of players who really stand out and who provide the firm foundations of the team.
Top of the list is always going to be Jayson Tatum. The 25-year-old power forward is frequently the top scorer for the team averaging 30+ points per game. He’s often ranked higher than other big star names like LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
Many are also predicting that if his current form continues, he should be well in line for the MVP player award for the 2023-24 season.
Another big star player is the shooting guard/small forward Jaylen Brown. His value to the team has been underlined by the fact that in July 2023 he signed a five-year contract extension worth $304 million – a record-breaking deal in the history of the NBA.
Last season saw Brown hit the heights with a 26.6 points per game average along with 3.5 assists and 6.9 rebounds.
Along with these two long-standing team members, there’s a relatively new arrival who’s already starting to make his presence felt. Last season Jrue Holiday was playing for the Milwaukee Bucks and has reached the Celtics via the Portland Trail Blazers. Recognised as one of the league’s very best perimeter defenders, Holiday is one of a basketball dynasty with brothers Justin and Aaron also in the NBA.
And now he is also an established member of the Celtics family.
So the prospects of the team are better than ever this season – and no-one will be in the least bit surprised if they carry off the ultimate prize next June.