2022 was a very good year for the Boston Celtics. They shook off 2021 and finished off the 2021-22 season with a historic run that just fell short of an NBA championship. Then they followed that up by starting off the 2022-23 season at a historic pace. With so many good times it was hard to narrow down the staff’s favorites, but here’s what we came up with.
Easily game three of the NBA Finals. I made the massive trip over to Boston from Australia and met up with Michael Spooner to catch the game. Just being in Boston for that moment in time for a few days was spectacular. Also having my finger on the “buy plane tickets now” button for the duration of ECF game 7 was nail biting stuff.
Game 6 against the Milwaukee Bucks, watching Jayson Tatum go for 46 points against Giannis and take another step towards superstardom. Tatum ended the game as the top scorer too, and the Celtics tied the series at 3-3 which just put the icing on the cake for me
Mine is the same as Ben Vallis. Nothing better than walking into the Garden with war drums echoing around from somewhere and everyone heading up the escalators chanting “let’s go Celtic” an hour before the game. Also got a slice at Halftime and a drink a Sully’s Tap. Can’t beat it.
Game 4, Bucks vs. Celtics. AKA The AL Horford Game! Have been a massive fan of Big Al since his first tour with the C’s and when he dunked on Giannis, I’m 90 percent sure I jumped out of my chair so fast I pulled a hammy. Al has always done the little things for this team, so for him to have an offensive explosion like that felt extremely satisfying.
As difficult as the Finals loss was, the fact that this team came back super strong after a chaos filled offseason!!!! As well, as they did... speaks volumes. My favorite early part of this season off-court was seeing that Brad Stevens is a budding brilliant GM and Joe Mazzulla can coach a team to the best record in the league even if early goings were tremor fueled. The players have been through so, so, so much and still seem so very much connected. My big win, is players connected and the coaching and MGMT is rebounding solid after another double face palm. JT and JB, Marcus, Al, Grant, Rob, DWhite, Malcolm, Luke, Hauser will get praise at season endings.
My favorite part of the Celtics season was actually something that happened off the court - it was Jayson Tatum’s appearance on JJ Redick’s podcast in February. Hearing his desire to play with Brown and Smart (arguably the two other pillars of the franchise) was really encouraging. But also hearing the way Tatum carries himself as a person… it’s cool to see such an amazing human being be there face of a franchise.
The final two games of the series win over the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of last season’s playoffs. It wasn’t just that they vanquished their most formidable conference foes – and arguably the best player in the NBA right now, to boot – it was how they did it. Down 3-2 in the series, the Celtics responded with a hard-fought Game 6 victory, featuring a scintillating 46-point performance from Jayson Tatum, before closing the Bucks out in a commanding Game 7 beatdown. It was a series that truly flipped the balance of power in the Eastern Conference in Boston’s favor, and one of the most entertaining series the Celtics have played since the days of the Big Three.
So many good options here, wow. I think I have to go with game 7 of the ECF against Miami. Reaching the finals brought me to tears — we’d been so close so many times in the recent years, and it felt incredible to see them get over the hump. Game 1 against Brooklyn, game 1 against Golden State, and game 6 against Milwaukee were also heavy considerations.
The Game 1 win over the Nets was one I’ll never forget. It was epic from start to finish, and Jayson Tatum’s first career buzzer-beater was a fitting exclamation point. That play epitomized what the Celtics were all about and signified that, yes, it would translate to the playoffs. This was a true team the entire way.
My favorite memory was winning game 7 at Miami, the first time since the 1974 NBA Finals that the Celtics won a G7 on the road. It felt good to take out the Heat and gain a measure of revenge for the loss in the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals. Everyone remembers the Heat’s late comeback and Jimmy Butler’s hero-ball three-point attempt that missed. But how many remember that Boston basically dominated the game? The Celtics scored the first six points, led by as many as 17, and never trailed once in 48 minutes. The Miami crowd was unhappy all night, as Tatum, Brown and Smart combined for 74 points. Overall, a terrific, satisfying win.
Having been a Celtics fan for over thirty years, there’s just something about when the past touches the present. Whether it’s Brian Scalabrine replacing Tommy Heinsohn in the booth with legendary Mike Gorman or Eddie House and Kendrick Perkins in the NBC Boston studio show, I love the continuity in Celtic Pride. Earlier in the season, we got this moment when Joe Johnson hit his patented ISO jumper twenty years after being drafted by the franchise. That warmed my heart in a pretty dark time in the world, but nothing beats KG’s number retirement ceremony and Jaylen Brown dapping him up on the baseline after a monster dunk. The team was rolling, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were also in the building, and for just a moment, I’d like to think some of that magic from that 2008 championship team rubbed off on the current iteration of the C’s. (edited)
the Big 3 reacting to THAT Jaylen Brown dunk pic.twitter.com/U20KUbz2tj— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) March 13, 2022
Grant Williams’ Game 7 against the Milwaukee Bucks. Three after three after three. Just an amazing way to end the series. Easy answer.
So many to pick from and it’s been a blessing to see so many of them in-person covering the team. The most surreal stretch had to be hoping the Celtics would wrap up the Heat in six games, watching Jimmy Butler tear Boston apart in Game 6, then scrambling to plan a Miami trip for Game 7. The game wasn’t as memorable as others during the run, Game 1 against Brooklyn and Game 6 at Milwaukee, but as the Celtics built a sizable lead in the fourth and the Finals felt imminent, I started making my way down from the upper deck to the floor area to record the ceremony, so I missed the string of empty possessions and the Heat’s run to close the gap. When I got into the media room and glanced at the TV, Butler was already making his run at Al Horford and firing up what could’ve been the game-winning three. It’s an all-time butterfly effect moment and I still can’t imagine what would’ve happened if it fell. It didn’t and Al Horford fell in jubilation, Cedric Maxwell gave his speech moments later and I was a few rows from the floor recording it all before Jaylen Brown and Al Horford took to the podium in jubilation as fans yelled from outside of the interview room. I jumped on a packed Frontier plane at 6am hours later and two days later I boarded another flight to San Francisco to cover the Finals in my first full season on the beat. It’s still hard to believe looking at where everything stood one year ago.
It’s a four-way tie between the buzzer beater against the Nets, Tatum’s Game 6 in Milwaukee, Grant’s Game 7 in Boston and Butler’s shot bouncing away in Game 7 in Miami. All were full of elation moments, but for different reasons. What a run.