The Boston Celtics entered the season as the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.
They failed to live up to that status and ceded some ground to the undermanned Milwaukee Bucks, finishing the season with the second-best record.
They were still the oddsmakers’ favorites to go the distance and win the NBA Finals, but they stumbled their way to the Eastern Conference Finals instead.
There, they dropped the first three games of the series vs. the No. 8 seed Miami Heat, putting themselves against the wall and losing in seven games in front of their very own fans.
"It's one of the best locker rooms I've been a part of. … Obviously we didn't achieve our goal. We didn't win which was our goal, so we failed in that regard."
—Joe Mazzulla on the outcome of the Celtics' season pic.twitter.com/vd7advCIxx
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 30, 2023
That’s why first-year coach Joe Mazzulla admits the team failed to achieve its goal.
Nonetheless, the rookie coach also praised his players for putting together one of the best locker rooms he’s been a part of, shutting down that narrative of Celtics players not even liking each other.
For years, there have been rumors of this Celtics’ core of players having a dysfunctional relationship, and it seems like those reports always surface when things don’t go their way in the playoffs.
So, as much as Mazzulla will obviously try to make it seem differently, people may not be ready to give them the benefit of the doubt this time around.
Yet, Mazzulla was able to save face and salvage his job for at least another season.
It would’ve been hard to keep him around if the Celtics got swept by the No. 8 seed, regardless of his close relationship with Brad Stevens.NEXT: Charles Barkley Sounds Off On Celtics After Game 7 Loss