What Makes the 2023-24 Celtics Stand Out in NBA History

Boston Celtics 2024 Champs
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This season, the 2023-24 Boston Celtics have truly shined on the basketball court. Even though they benefitted from some key injuries to other teams in the Eastern Conference playoffs, their performance has been outstanding. They also managed to avoid playing against the tough Denver Nuggets, the defending champions, in the NBA Finals. Despite these circumstances, the Celtics have shown their dominance throughout the season and have made a strong case for being one of the greatest teams in NBA history.

Here’s a closer look at why this Celtics team stands out.

1. All-time point differential

The 2023-24 Boston Celtics have achieved something remarkable with their point differential. Throughout the regular season and playoffs, they managed to outscore their opponents by an average of 10.7 points per game. This incredible stat ranks as the fifth-best point differential in NBA history. In total, they ended the season with a combined record of 80-21, which is the 13th best record ever.

Here’s how the Celtics compare to other top teams:

  • 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks: This team had the best point differential, outscoring opponents by 12.6 points per game.
  • 2016-17 Golden State Warriors: Known for their dominating play, they had a point differential of 12.0 points per game.
  • 1995-96 Chicago Bulls: One of the greatest teams ever, they outscored opponents by 11.9 points on average.
  • 1971-72 L.A. Lakers: They had a point differential of 10.9 points per game.
  • 2023-24 Boston Celtics: With 10.7 points per game, they are among the top five teams in NBA history.

One of the most impressive stats for the Celtics this season was their ability to win big. They won 19 games by at least 25 points, including 17 in the regular season and two in the playoffs. Out of their 21 total losses, only eight were by double digits. This consistency in high-level performance and dominant victories underscore why the 2023-24 Celtics are a standout team in NBA history.

2. Top Two on Both Ends of the Floor

The 2023-24 Boston Celtics have shown exceptional skills both offensively and defensively. It’s rare for teams to be this balanced, but the Celtics managed to rank in the top three in both categories during the regular season. They finished first in offensive efficiency and second in defensive efficiency. This achievement is impressive, making them only the fourth team in the last 28 years to reach these heights. The other teams to accomplish this were the 2014-15 and 2016-17 Golden State Warriors, who both won championships and last season’s Celtics, who made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

What sets this year’s Celtics apart is their consistency. They became the first team in nearly three decades to rank in the top four for both offense and defense in two consecutive seasons. This level of performance doesn’t just happen; it shows careful planning and rigorous training. Head coach Joe Mazzulla, known for his analytical approach, often discusses the team’s expected points per shot, indicating how meticulously the Celtics strategize their games.

3. The Most Efficient Offense in NBA History

The 2023-24 Boston Celtics didn’t just lead the league in offense; they set a new standard. They scored 122.2 points per 100 possessions, which is the highest in NBA history. This remarkable achievement was aided by their impressive shooting, with an effective field goal percentage of 57.82%, just slightly below the record set by the Indiana Pacers. The Celtics excelled in taking care of the ball, boasting the lowest turnover rate in the league with only 12.1 turnovers per 100 possessions.

What makes the Celtics’ offense particularly special is how it measured up historically. Even though this season was the most efficient scoring season league-wide, the Celtics’ offense still ranked as the fourth-best in the last 28 years when adjusted for league averages. Such a high level of efficiency makes them a formidable opponent and an exciting team to follow. If you’re looking at Boston Celtics betting odds, this historic offensive performance adds an extra layer of confidence and excitement.

The Celtics didn’t just rely on a few star players; their team effort and strategy played a major role in their success. Whether it’s nailing three-pointers or consistently making smart plays, the Celtics have crafted a game plan that leverages everyone’s skills. This combination of talent, strategy, and efficiency has indeed made the 2023-24 Boston Celtics offense one of the greatest in NBA history.

4. Shutting Down the Dallas Offense

The 2023-24 Boston Celtics truly showcased their defensive prowess in the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks. Throughout the series, the Celtics held the Mavericks to just 106.7 points per 100 possessions, which was a season-low for Dallas if you exclude a couple of games where they rested their star players, Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. This impressive defensive performance was critical in the Celtics winning the series in just five games.

In the Finals, the Mavericks faced many challenges that they hadn’t encountered in previous playoff rounds. Their effective field goal percentage dropped to 51.6%, and their free throw attempts were at 22.4 per 100 shots, both their lowest in the playoffs. Additionally, their offensive rebounding percentage of 25.9% was the worst of all four series they played. These declines show just how stifling the Celtics’ defense was.

The Celtics’ defensive game plan was all about keeping the Mavericks’ stars in check. They executed a strategy focusing on one-on-one and two-on-two defense, which they managed to do without needing to adjust much. Luka Doncic still took on a significant role with a usage rate of 36.7%, but his efficiency dipped. His true shooting percentage fell to 53%, notably lower than his 62.7% in the Western Conference finals.

This combination of focused strategy and impeccable execution led the Celtics to not only contain one of the league’s best offenses but also secure their place as one of the most defensive teams of the season.

5. Clutch Improvement

Even great teams need to win close games, and the Celtics have mastered this over the past two seasons. Looking at the last four seasons, you can see their improvement in clutch situations — games where the score is within five points in the last five minutes.

In the 2020-21 season, their clutch performance was lacking, with a record of 18 wins and 26 losses. They didn’t fare much better in 2021-22, with 20 wins and 27 losses. However, things started to turn around in the 2022-23 season when they won 29 out of 48 close games.

The 2023-24 season was even more impressive. The Celtics closed out close games with a 27-12 record, including a flawless 6-0 in the playoffs. When games got tight, they outscored opponents by 20.8 points per 100 clutch possessions. This excellence, both offensively and defensively in clutch moments, played a big role in their success. This turnaround helped them secure their 18th championship banner, solidifying their status as one of the best teams ever.