The Boston Celtics endured a slow start to the 2021/22 NBA season under new head coach Ime Udoka, but have gradually started to find their feet with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown finding their form on the court. Udoka made history in the NBA when he replaced Brad Stevens in the off-season, becoming the first Nigerian head coach to grace the sideline.
The 44-year-old drifted in and out of the league during a seven-year NBA career, but impressed Gregg Popovich enough during his time with the San Antonio Spurs to secure a coaching berth. He worked under Popovich for seven years before spending one season apiece at the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets before being hired by Stevens to serve as his replacement following his move to Basketball Operations in Boston.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) June 23, 2021
Udoka has the challenge of improving the Celtics’ fortunes in the playoffs after failing to make the leap to the NBA Finals under Stevens, falling short on three occasions in the Eastern Conference Finals. Boston failed to maximize their potential with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward on their roster with Tatum and Brown developing their skills. Tatum and Brown are now the focal points of the team and two of the best young players in the NBA. Their talent alone is enough to consider the Celtics for an outside shot to make a run for the Eastern Conference crown. By looking at the basket betting website (such as the bookmakers listed here), you will find the best ways to wager on Boston in an outright market to reach the NBA Finals along with individual game bets using the moneyline and spread options. Considering the team’s chances, you want to make your bet count.
It will take a serious effort from Udoka in his rookie season on the sideline to guide the Celtics through the rigors of the Eastern Conference. Boston has arguably underachieved since Danny Ainge and Stevens successfully overturned the aging roster in 2013 back into a title contender.
The presence of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers denied the Celtics in back-to-back Conference Finals in 2017 and 2018 along with injuries to Irving and Hayward. The 2020 Conference Finals was their greatest disappointment when they lost out to the Miami Heat after the Milwaukee Bucks and the Philadelphia 76ers had been eliminated. Stevens was criticized for his lack of clinical edge on the sideline. He allowed games to drift on too many occasions, while the Celtics began to become complacent in his final term, surrendering significant leads in multiple games.
Udoka has seen first-hand that his side still has those traits. They allowed the Cavaliers to mount an 18-point comeback in the fourth quarter of their contest to slump to a disappointing loss on the road. However, Udoka has also seen the quality attributes of Tatum, Brown, Al Horford, and Marcus Smart on the court. Those four players were key cogs in the teams that reached the Eastern Conference Finals and have the right blend of experience and talent to match the best in the East.
My goodness don't hurt him Dennis! pic.twitter.com/yJX9vpaWaJ
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) November 23, 2021
The issue that the Celtics suffered with under Stevens was the lack of alternatives on the bench to ease the pressure on his starters. In the early days of Udoka’s reign, support appears to be forthcoming at last with Dennis Schroeder and Josh Richardson proving vital points, while the development of Robert Williams among others is providing hope for the future.
Steve Kerr set the bar extremely high for rookie head coaches in the NBA with a dominant run with the Golden State Warriors, winning 67 regular-season games before marching their way to the NBA Championship. Udoka does not have to win the title this term, but the goal of guiding the Celtics back to relevance in the Eastern Conference is attainable with his pedigree and the talent of his roster.
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