Skip to main content

The Boston Celtics head into Wednesday’s game with the Miami Heat with an NBA-best record of 17-4. Ever since January’s in-season turnaround last year, the Celtics have caught fire. They haven’t slowed down.

After going 25-25 in the first 50 games last year, Boston closed the regular season at 26-6 to earn the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Since that stretch, the Celtics are 43-10 in their last 53 regular-season games. How does Boston’s quick start to the season stack up to some of their others?

Led by Jayson Tatum, the Boston Celtics are on a mission

Head coach Joe Mazzulla and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics look on during a game against the Charlotte Hornets at TD Garden on November 28, 2022, in Boston, Massachusetts. | Adam Glanzman/Getty Images.

The Celtics finally got over the hump last year. In three of the previous five seasons, the Celtics reached the conference finals but never went any further. They hadn’t played in an NBA Finals since 2010.

Last year, they made the championship round, but the Golden State Warriors finished the job in six games. While Boston’s loss stung at the time, it might just be what the team needed. Celtics star Jayson Tatum got a taste of the NBA Finals, felt the pain of losing on his home court, and is more motivated to win a championship.

“Said it a million times that it was a long, miserable summer, so I just wanted to get back out here and compete,” Tatum told Abby Chin of NBC Sports Boston earlier this year. “I just want to win — don’t care about how many points I score. I just want to get back to that point.”

Tatum is certainly doing his part. He’s averaging a career-high 30.8 points and is in the running for MVP. He worked on his conditioning and getting stronger. He’s also taken his game to a new level by driving to the basket more, something he didn’t do much of last year.

“I worked on my body a lot this summer and physically just feel a lot better,” Tatum said. “Reading the game, as well as being able to attack the basket, I’m much more physical than in past years.”

How does the Celtics start rank up there with previous seasons?


Boston Celtics Championship History Countdown — Top 17 Signature Moments Ranked

Yes, the Celtics boast the best record at 17-4, but let’s not get too excited. This isn’t a rarity.

Nine times in franchise history, the Celtics have had three or fewer losses at the 20-game mark, according to Boston has already lost four times this year.

Just four years ago, the Celtics began the season with a 17-3 mark and finished at 55-27. They lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Five times, the Celtics had two losses through 20 games, the latest coming in 2009. That year, they finished 62-20 but didn’t even reach the conference finals.

In 2008, they also opened 18-2. The Kevin Garnett-led Celtics won 66 games and were crowned champions after defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.

While the Celtics are off to a tremendous start, it’s far from record-breaking. They are playing unselfish basketball and should only get better when starting center Robert Williams III returns. With Williams manning the paint last year, the Celtics had the top defense in the league. This year, they’re doing it with the NBA’s top offense.

The Celtics have always been a team in love with the three-point shot. This year, they have five players in the top 15 in three-point percentage. Tatum and Jaylen Brown aren’t even in the top 100, according to Celtics play-by-play man Sean Grande.

Although their quick start doesn’t rank up with the best in franchise history, it’s still promising. They’re a motivated team that’s only going to get better when they get to full strength.