Celtics

10 things you might not know about the 2022 Celtics

They've excelled on the road all season.

Jayson Tatum smiles during a game against the Heat. Michael Dwyer/AP Photo

After starting the season with one head-scratching loss after the next, the 2022 Celtics miraculously defied the odds to make their first NBA Finals since 2010.

Game 1 is set for Thursday at 9 p.m. EST in San Francisco. Before the series gets underway, here are 10 things you might not know about this Celtics team.

It was quite bleak for a while.

You’re likely aware that the Celtics have had a dramatic turnaround, but do you know just how dramatic?

When they lost to the Knicks on Jan. 6 to move to 18-21, they dropped to 11th place in the Eastern Conference. On Jan. 28, they sat at 25-25 and found themselves tied for eighth place.

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They were on pace to finish .500 again, just like they did last year, and there were talks of blowing everything up and trading Jaylen Brown or Marcus Smart.

They orchestrated a truly remarkable turnaround.

They then went 26-6 the rest of the way to earn the No. 2 seed — a twist that few outside of the organization saw coming.

It was a Rich Strike at the Kentucky Derby-like ascension, as they came from nowhere to vault up the standings. They ended up finishing with the sixth-best record in the NBA.

Robert Williams led them in player efficiency rating.

Jayson Tatum was first on the team in points in the regular season and Marcus Smart was first in assists, but it was Robert Williams who was the most efficient player.

He posted a PER of 22.1, which was ahead of even Tatum. Williams appeared in 61 games, and averaged just 29.6 minutes, but was extremely useful in his time on the floor. His health is paramount for the Finals.

The top 3-point shooters, percentage-wise, are all role players.

Tatum and Brown led the team in 3s made in the regular season, but reserves Payton Pritchard (41.2 percent) and Grant Williams (41.1 percent) were the most efficient shooters.

In the playoffs, Al Horford is the top 3-point shooter on the team at 43.2 percent. For those curious, Marcus Smart is consistent — 33.1 percent in the regular season and 33 percent in the playoffs.

They excel statistically in many areas.

The Celtics posted the biggest statistical differential league-wide, between themselves and their opponents, in many categories during the regular season.

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They shot 46.6 percent and held their opponents to 43.4, shot 35.6 percent from 3-point range and held opponents to 33.9, and had 24.8 assists per game compared to 21.6.

They’re elite on the road.

The Celtics are 23-7 in their last 30 games on the road, including 11-1 in that span following a loss. They’re dominating teams by an average of 12.1 per game, per play-by-play announcer Sean Grande.

They’ve won 11 of 12 on the road against the West, outscoring their opponents by 19.8 in that period.

They have the fourth-largest road scoring margin — including both the regular season and playoffs — in NBA history (7.42).

They’ve struggled in close games.

Grande noted that the Celtics are 56-20 in games decided by six points or more and 7-17 in games decided by five or fewer.

They did, however, hold on to beat the Heat (barely) in Game 7 — though, in fairness, it probably never should have gotten to that point.

They’ve fared relatively well against the Warriors.

The Celtics are 9-7 in their last 16 games against Golden State, which is certainly noteworthy considering how successful the Warriors have been overall in that span.

Eleven of 16 meetings have been decided by five points or fewer. One that wasn’t came in March, when the Celtics earned by far the largest margin of victory out of any team at Golden State this season (plus-22).

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Since 2014-15, the Celtics are plus-73 at Golden State. No other road team is close to having a positive scoring margin during that span.

Ime Udoka has already made history.

Ime Udoka became the first rookie head coach ever to win multiple Game 7s.

Of course, that’s not his focus right now. He has a chance to become the sixth first-year head coach to lead his team to a title — joining Nick Nurse, Tyronn Lue, Steve Kerr, Pat Riley, and Paul Westhead.

Many questioned during the team’s rocky start whether he was the right fit, but he’s been a steady and dependable presence the entire way and the results have followed.

They’re trying to complete an underdog story.

The Celtics had +4000 odds to win the title on Oct. 19 and +6000 on Jan. 20. A $10 bet would have yielded $610.

Per FOX Bet, their 40-to-1 odds at the start of the season would make them the largest underdogs to win it all since 1984.

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