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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

The Boston Celtics are so back: New and familiar faces flipped the script in the fourth

Photo: Rachel Choi
A silhouette of the Boston Celtics logo. Illustration by Rachel Choi.

After a postseason of heartbreak and turmoil, Celtics fans should be optimistic about the 2023-24 season. The playoffs left fans pessimistic about the team’s future after they fell to the No. 8 seed Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. As a result, the Celtics’ front office had an unexpectedly active offseason. They traded former Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart to acquire Kristaps Porziņģis and former Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon and Robert Williams III to acquire Jrue Holiday.

Trading the heart and soul of the Boston Celtics, their Sixth Man, and a versatile big man was a bold move. But, after their performance last postseason, the C’s needed to make drastic changes. Boston has historically been good at blowing leads in the fourth quarter. In last year’s playoffs, the Celtics blew two 10-point fourth-quarter leads, costing them what could have been their 18th banner. The addition of Porziņģis and Holiday has made Boston the favorites to win the 2024 NBA Finals.

Opening night had fans on their toes, though they anticipated that the Celtics would easily come out on top against the New York Knicks. The Celtics came out of their season opener against the Knicks with a 108-104 road victory on October 25. 

Admittedly, their win against the Knicks was ugly. The C’s entered the fourth quarter with a nine-point lead. Three minutes later, the Celtics trailed by two. Celtics fans know blowing a fourth-quarter lead all too well. The Knicks raced into crunch time with a 13-2 run accompanied by several C’s turnovers and poor rebounding. Knowing their track record, a rational fan would have assumed that it was game over. However, this time they miraculously won. 

Two things stuck out this time around. One, Head Coach Joe Mazzulla called a crucial timeout late in the fourth, a move he rarely makes. Two, Boston found their missing piece in Porziņģis, the 7-foot-3-inch clutch scorer who, along with his dominant defensive efforts, scored nine straight points to help close out the game. 

Porziņģis wasn’t the only new face that made a statement in game one. Holiday, the five-time NBA All-Defense Team Member, was lethal in his own end. He held Knicks forward Julius Randle to two points on 1-10 shooting on 23 possessions and held Jalen Brunson scoreless. The Knicks shot 17.4 percent with Holiday on defense. 

The newest additions to this C’s team are promising, and they mesh well with the returning players. Jayson Tatum, who boasted a league-high of 2,225 total points scored last season, scored a game-high 34 points. All-Star guard Jaylen Brown, on the other hand, had a lackluster game with a mere 11 points in 38 minutes. Of course, it’s too soon to tell if Brown’s performance should be of concern. Though, with the addition of Porziņģis, it won’t come as a shock if Brown can’t mimic his 26.6 points per game average last year.

Despite the collapse in the fourth and an off night from Brown, the Celtics still made a statement, showing that they are, in fact, capable of executing in the clutch and not completely blowing a fourth-quarter lead (I know, shocking for a superteam).

Even though Boston gave up 20 more field goal attempts, they still managed to come out on top. And despite going back to their old ways at some points, the Celtics were able to respond to adversity. 

A huge difference between this year’s squad and last year’s is that the Jays aren’t responsible for having to carry all of the scoring on their backs. The newly constructed C’s have more depth on both ends of the court.

There is plenty of time to clean up any messes that the Celtics may have made on opening night. I say this every year, but this time I am feeling the most confident. 2024 will be Boston’s year.

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About the Contributor
Rumsha Siddiqui, Kasteel Well Bureau Chief
Rumsha Siddiqui (she/her) is a journalism major from upstate New York. She currently serves as the Kasteel Well Bureau Chief and is keen on writing about the Boston Celtics, film, and television.

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