When it comes to the Boston Celtics, titles are everything. Outside of a championship, nothing is good enough. That’s been the belief of the fanbase ever since Bill Russell set the (way too high) standard in the 1960s. And since the 2022-23 season didn’t end with Banner 18, it was a failure.
But for 28 other franchises, the year Boston just had would have been a successful one. It doesn’t have to be treated as such by Celtics fans, but the moments along the way can still be appreciated.
So, with the offseason in full swing and our minds looking more into next year than last, let’s take a final look at the most memorable moment from each player on the roster in 2022-2023.
(The two-way guys, JD Davison and Mfiondu Kabengele, and the deep bench players, Justin Champagnie, Justin Jackson, and Noah Vonleh, will not be included.)
Mike Muscala - Debut with Celtics
Boston traded for Mike Muscala at the deadline in an attempt to bolster their frontcourt, and in his debut for the Celtics, he gave them exactly what they wanted. In a win over the Charlotte Hornets, Muscala nailed four three-pointers in 15:38 of action, dropping 12 points.
Honorable mentions: 27 points vs. ATL, 18 points vs. MIL
Luke Kornet - The Kornet Kontest
Surprisingly, there were a few different Luke Kornet moments that would have been perfect for this spot, but not choosing the Kornet Kontest would be a crime.
Kornet appeared in 69 games for the Celtics this past season, but he made a name for himself with his unique style of defense. Watching Kornet jump in the paint with his hands up high to defend three-pointers was an experience enjoyed by local and national broadcasters alike, and it was even adopted by other players around the league.
Honorable mentions: The bird celebration, Eating Jayson Tatum’s Ruffles
Payton Pritchard - 30-point triple-double
This seems like one of those made-up stats posted on Twitter that’s used to farm engagements, but no — Payton Pritchard actually notched a 30-point triple-double in the final game of the regular season.
On a night where neither team was rolling out their starters, Pritchard absolutely took over, torching the Atlanta Hawks’ secondary guys. He finished the game with 30 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists, also joining James Harden as the second player in NBA history with at least nine made threes in the same game as a triple-double.
Honorable mentions: January 21 vs. Raptors, offensive rebounding machine
Blake Griffin - Headbutted by Thanasis Antetokounmpo
Picking just one Blake Griffin moment from last season is unfair, but if there had to be one, getting headbutted by Thanasis Antetokounmpo and proceeding to laugh in his face has to be at the top of the list.
Griffin committed a wrap-around foul on Antetokounmpo to prevent a layup, then the Bucks forward headbutted him as a response, and all he did was take a step back and start laughing. The Celtics forward then proceeded to put on Jaylen Brown’s mask as a joke while on the bench.
Honorable mentions: Bus One Boys, five threes against 76ers
Sam Hauser - Breakout game vs. Pistons
This was a huge year for Sam Hauser, as he emerged as a legitimate rotation piece for the Celtics, and his showing against the Detroit Pistons on November 9 was the beginning of his ascension.
Hauser nailed six three-pointers and finished the game with a then-career-high 24 points, helping Boston to a 16-point victory. From then on out, Hauser was a dependable bench option for Joe Mazzulla and one of the best three-point shooters in the league (especially in the first half of the season).
Honorable mentions: Dunk-fest vs. Raptors, game-tying shot vs. Bucks
Grant Williams - Game 2 vs. 76ers
Unfortunately for Grant Williams, many fans will only remember his lows, but the former Celtics forward was a positive presence on both ends of the court, and his impact reached its peak this season in Game 2 of the Eastern conference semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers.
After earning sporadic minutes up to that point in the postseason, Williams burst onto the scene in Game 2. His hustle and three-point stroke led to a 12-point, four-rebound, four-assist game, which helped lift Boston to a 34-point victory and their first win of the series.
Honorable mentions: Game 4 vs. Heat, 25 points vs. Raptors
Robert Williams - Game 3 vs. Hawks
In comparison to his breakout campaign in the 2021-22 season, Robert Williams had a relatively quiet year. He returned from surgery midway through December and didn’t play back-to-backs, but in Game 3 against the Hawks, Williams came to play.
Boston struggled with rebounding against Atlanta, so naturally, Williams came to the rescue. He recorded 13 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two blocks, helping the Celtics to an eight-point win.
Honorable mentions: Jan. 7 vs. Spurs, season debut vs. Magic
Malcolm Brogdon - Game 2 vs. 76ers
Game 2 against the 76ers was a blowout win for the Celtics, and Malcolm Brogdon will share the moment with Williams as his best of the year. In what was a three-point barrage, Brogdon chipped in with six triples, helping bury Philadelphia.
Brogdon ended the game with 23 points, six rebounds, and two assists, finishing second on the team in scoring behind only Jaylen Brown’s 25. It was the perfect illustration of Brogdon’s three-point prowess, as the veteran guard finished fourth in the league in three-point percentage this year (44.4%).
Honorable mentions: 30 points vs. Hornets, Game 2 vs. Hawks
Al Horford - Game 3 vs. 76ers (Elite shooter)
In the first two games of the East semifinals against the 76ers, Al Horford shot just 2-for-12 from three. While speaking with reporters before Game 3, he called himself an “elite shooter,” drawing a laugh from the media scrum. Horford quickly questioned the chuckle and proceeded to have his best game of the postseason.
The veteran big man poured in five three-pointers on seven attempts, finishing the game with 17 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals. His three-point masterclass lifted Boston to a 12-point win and proved that he is, in fact, an elite shooter.
Honorable mentions: Jan. 19 vs. Warriors, Game 7 vs. 76ers (Defending Joel Embiid)
Marcus Smart - Game 6 vs. 76ers
Game 6 of the East semifinals will be remembered as the game where Jayson Tatum woke up in the fourth quarter, but Marcus Smart is the reason the Celtics won that contest. As Tatum’s struggles continued, Smart stepped up, giving Boston everything he had.
Smart finished the game with 22 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and two steals, providing his usual hustle defense and energy to go along with the stat line. Without Smart’s contributions, Boston would have been watching Philadelphia celebrate an Eastern Conference Finals birth (for the first time since 2001).
Honorable mentions: Game 5 vs. Heat, 15 assists vs. Hornets
Derrick White - Game-winner vs. Heat in Game 6
While it would have been so much sweeter if the Celtics had taken down the Miami Heat in Game 7, Derrick White’s Game 6 buzzer-beater was by far his best moment of the year. Just when it seemed like all hope was lost and the season was over, White came swooping in with a putback to send the Eastern Conference Finals to a historic Game 7.
White had a superb playoff run for the Celtics, dominating the Hawks and (for the most part) acting as their best player against the Heat. His Game 6 heroics brought Celtics fans from the lowest low to the highest high in a literal millisecond.
Honorable mentions: Games 1 and 2 vs. Hawks, Eastern Conference Player of the Week
Jaylen Brown - Game 6 vs. Hawks
In what was an elite game for both himself and Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown helped the Celtics close out the Hawks in style in Game 6. Boston’s 10-point fourth-quarter victory fueled the win, and Brown was the headliner all night long.
Highlighted by a 13-point second quarter, Brown exploded for a game-high 32 points to go along with five rebounds and two assists while shooting 13-of-25 from the field and 6-of-8 from distance. He had a few monster scoring nights in the regular season (some to go along with a double-double), but putting up 32 in a closeout game takes the cake.
Honorable mentions: Game-tying shot vs. Heat, 41 points vs. Spurs
Jayson Tatum - Game 7 vs. 76ers
There was never going to be another choice for Jayson Tatum. With the season on the line, the Celtics superstar put up a whopping 51 points to send the 76ers packing and Boston to their fifth Eastern Conference finals appearance in seven years.
In addition to his massive scoring night, which he achieved on 17-of-28 shooting from the field and 6-of-10 shooting from deep, Tatum added 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and 11 made free throws to his totals. It was an utterly dominant performance from one of the best players in the league, and he did it on the grandest stage after a series full of disappointment. Absolutely incredible.
Honorable mentions: game-winner vs. 76ers, Game 4 vs. Heat