Skip to Content

The Boston Celtics Are Champions, Among Other Things

Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics exults near the Larry O'Brien Trophy after his team's win in the decisive Game 5 of the 2024 NBA Finals.
Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

So it's agreed that these Boston Celtics are one of the greatest teams in NBA history, based on the fact they are the last team to do the thing anyone remembers. But what about those people who wish the Celtics, as a basketball team and organization and fan base and concept, to die 6,000 deaths? For them, all that remains are late drunken nights at the pub arguing with equally drunken strangers and then, later, apologizing for swearing at that cop's horse.

But here's what we can verify, on their first day as NBA champions—they're very, very good and yet not quite all that yet.

We don't do vagueness these days, though. In the new argue first/ask questions later world which we have created, we need standards, and by those standards the Celtics are the following:

  • One of 77 championship teams.
  • One of 41 teams to win four playoff rounds.
  • One of 22 teams to win 16 playoff games.
  • One of 14 teams to win 80 regular-season and playoff games.
  • One of six teams with an per-game average margin of victory over 11 points.
  • One of two teams to lose three or fewer playoff games in the 4X4 era.

So: they are very good.

And there is the underside, which is that they also are:

  • The champion who had to play the sixth-poorest competition by regular-season wins (191).
  • The third champion to lose at least one playoff game by 38 or more points.
  • The champion who had to play the poorest competition by total seed (27).
  • The Boston Celtics.

It's hard to quantify that last one. The understanding of it speaks to one's personal character, and we know what moral and ethical cesspools most of you inhabit. Nothing the Celtics do can change the essential fact that they are the Celtics, and if you hate the Celtics, they can go 98-0 and still be nothing more than the Celtics.

By the most generous standards, the best Boston can be is second to the 2017 Golden State team that had a pre-disillusioned Kevin Durant and made everyone else in the basketball diaspora scream about how unfair their excellence was. You may argue for the 1996 and '97 Jordan Bulls, the '72 West/Chamberlain Lakers, the '71 Kareem Bucks, and '67 76ers if you are fond of the good old days, and if you believe in the honor and glory that comes with having to punch up for two straight months, the '95 Rockets should be in that conversation as well. But by the harshest standards ... well, knowing you, you're probably going to go with "They're the Celtics," again.

So take your arguments about the Celtics' virtues and vices to a place where they can do some good—an under-fertilized garden. The Celtics are historically quite good, and maybe even top-10 great; they also didn't play anyone fearsome because 2024 was a very forgettable season followed by a barely tolerable postseason. The league may well be facing a 1970s-level decline while simultaneously tripling its media rights money, because there are too many streamers and not enough programming. The Celtics are inarguably and inescapably the champions of all that, and also the glory days of the 20-teens are fading, we're running out of ways to laugh at the Lakers, the new stars on the block are still years away from full bloom, Satan is winning, and last call was an hour ago. Get lost.

If you liked this blog, please share it! Your referrals help Defector reach new readers, and those new readers always get a few free blogs before encountering our paywall.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter