Boston Celtics

How Celtics' strong first half bodes well for success in NBA playoffs

History suggests the 2023-24 Celtics should go on a long playoff run.

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The Boston Celtics couldn't have asked for a better first half of the 2023-24 NBA season.

The first 41 games haven't gone perfectly, but to lead the league standings with a 32-9 record and have no major injuries definitely counts as a strong start.

The only goal for the Celtics is winning Banner 18, and while they remain a long way from completing that objective, they are on track.

🔊 Celtics Talk: Five questions at the halfway mark of the season with Eddie House | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

And if history is any indication, the Celtics' chances of winning the championship this season are pretty good. The C's are on pace to win 64 games. The franchise has won 60-plus games 13 times. The Celtics won the title in six of those years, including their last three championships in 2007-08, 1985-86 and 1983-84.

This year's Celtics also have a 10.34 SRS (Simple Rating System) score, which would be the highest in team history. SRS, according to Basketball Reference, is "a team rating that takes into account average point differential and strength of schedule. The rating is denominated in points above/below average, where zero is average."

The Celtics teams with the five-best SRS scores in history all won the Larry O'Brien Trophy that season.

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla was asked Wednesday night about assessing his team's performance at the halfway point of the campaign. One of his objectives is to make sure the team is always trying to improve, regardless of how high it climbs up the standings.

"I didn't really have an expectation or a goal to be a certain type of thing (at the halfway point), but I will say is we just have to stay in the space of we're really good, but we could lose any game," Mazzulla told reporters after the C's beat the San Antonio Spurs.

"We have to be really hard on ourselves. It's annoying to be super critical of yourself, but we gotta do that and hold each other accountable. It doesn't mean there won't be tough times, 41 games left and we got a ton of tough games coming up. I don't expect it to always go our way in these next 41, but I do expect us to stay the course and always keep an open mind to getting better."

Celtics star Jaylen Brown stressed the importance of the next few weeks and making sure the team keeps its foot on the gas pedal. This is no time for taking it easy, says Brown.

"I feel good. I don't think we've skipped any steps," Brown said Wednesday night when asked about the team's performance so far. "I think we're still improving. This is the part of the regular season where you gotta embrace because you can get complacent and you can get mentally checked out. But we're trying to make sure we're all engaged, and this is where you build your endurance for long playoff drives.

"This is the part of the regular season I think is most important. Going into All-Star break teams start to count the days, and we're just going to keep stacking wins."

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