What Boston Celtics Member Has the Most Pressure on Them Ahead of the 2023-24 NBA Season?

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Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics gives an interview during Boston Celtics Media Day.

As NBA training camps open, many eyes are on the Boston Celtics, who just bolstered their chances of making another serious run at a championship by acquiring star guard Jrue Holiday. With Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown leading the way over the past six years, the Celtics have always been a favorite to secure their first championship since 2008.

After the Eastern Conference rival Milwaukee Bucks swung a trade to acquire All-Star guard Damian Lillard, the Celtics swooped in to snag Holiday, who was sent to the Portland Trail Blazers in the Lillard trade. Acquiring Holiday puts the Celtics, at worst, as the co-favorites with the Bucks to represent the East in the NBA Finals. With Tatum and Brown, the Celtics have been there once and lost. Pressure is mounting for the Celtics to hang Banner 18, but which Celtics member has the most pressure on them this year?

The Boston Celtics have plenty of pressure on them

The Boston Celtics have been more than competitive during the Tatum/Brown days. They’ve also been disappointing.

Sure, getting to the conference finals is an accomplishment, but with a pair of All-NBA studs in the starting lineup, it’s not enough. During the 2021-22 season, Tatum and Brown got the Celtics over the hump and into the Finals, where they faced the Golden State Warriors. After taking a 2-1 series lead, the Celtics dropped three straight.

Tatum and Brown struggled in the series. Turnovers were their downfall. The two struggled to take over, while Stephen Curry did just that. In Game 4 in Boston, with his team trailing 2-1 in the series, Curry stepped up. He made 14 of 26 shots from the floor, including going 7-for-14 from three-point land, and finished with 43 points in a 107-97 Warriors win.

Tatum and Brown combined to shoot 17-for-42 from the floor in that game. Tatum committed a game-high six turnovers. Last year, the door was wide open for a return trip to the championship round, but the Celtics were embarrassed by the eighth-seeded Miami Heat at home in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

With Holiday now in the mix, the Celtics have plenty of pressure to take the next step and bring home a championship.

What member of the Celtics is under the most pressure this year?

It’s clear both the Bucks and the Celtics are in win-now mode. The Bucks, looking to keep superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee for the long haul, pulled the trigger on the Lillard trade, temporarily vaulting the Bucks past the Celtics as the favorite in the East. The Celtics countered by sending Malcolm Brogdon, Robert Williams, and two picks to Portland for Holiday.

Tatum and Brown are in their prime. They have a strong supporting cast around them. There are no excuses this year when it comes to winning a title. There’s plenty of pressure to go around in Boston, but who’s the one most under fire?

Is it Tatum? Many consider him a top-five player in the league. Curry, LeBron James, Antetokounmpo, and Nikola Jokic all have championships. If Tatum wants to reach the elite level, he needs to guide the Celtics to a championship.

Is it Brown? Brown signed a five-year extension worth $304 million. The deal is the richest one in league history. Brown isn’t even the best player on his team.

Is it head coach Joe Mazzulla? Mazzulla found himself taking plenty of heat from Celtics fans throughout the season. A rookie coach who was forced into action after the abrupt departure of Ime Udoka, Mazzulla was often criticized for not knowing when to call a timeout and for his odd rotations. He got snippy with the Boston press at times. He’ll have plenty of explaining to do if he can’t put out a winning team with all this talent.

How about Brad Stevens? Stevens hasn’t been afraid to make a move as Boston’s president of basketball operations. He traded fan favorite Marcus Smart in a deal that brought back Kristaps Porzingis. He let Grant Williams go without getting anything in return. Robert Williams is gone, leaving Boston thin in the paint.

While there are plenty of candidates, Brown has to be the one most under fire. When Tatum injured his ankle last year in Game 7 of the conference finals, it was Brown’s time to shine. Instead, he shot 8-for-23 from the floor and committed an embarrassing eight turnovers. He was rewarded with his $304 million extension. For now, Brown has the most pressure on him as the Celtics seek Banner 18.