Ime Udoka didn’t exactly hit the ground running with the Boston Celtics.
The first-year head coach has been the right man for the job, with Boston locking up the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, but it took time this season for the Celtics to find their footing. Udoka, to his credit, remained patient and poised while implementing his vision.
So, what is that vision?
“Guard your (butt) off and share the ball,” Udoka recently told The Athletic’s Jason Quick. “Pretty simple. At the end of the day, there isn’t any magic to it. (San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich) used to always say that: ‘There’s no special formula. Don’t try to overcoach and show how smart you are.’ It’s can you get them to do the basics that the best teams have been doing forever?”
The Celtics stumbled out of the gate and hovered around .500 earlier this season, raising questions over whether the team ever would reach its potential with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. They’ve since silenced many doubts and look like a legitimate title contender upon entering the NBA playoffs.
Udoka doesn’t deserve all of the credit, of course. The players have bought in and taken their collective game to another level. But he certainly has built a culture conducive to on-court success, with the Celtics now being a team that’s difficult to play against on any given night.