The Boston Celtics have officially punched their ticket to the 2023 NBA Playoffs.
And the best part is they didn’t need to do anything on Saturday night to do it.
Before the C’s took the floor for the second half against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Arena, Boston earned its playoff spot for the ninth consecutive time, courtesy of a 113-99 Miami Heat loss to the Chicago Bulls. Either a Miami loss or Boston win would’ve resulted in playoff security for the Celtics, making them just the second NBA team to do so.
Now the Celtics can remain laser-focused on reclaiming ownership of the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. But with piling issues constantly playing a role, Joe Mazzulla’s squad has plenty left to prove despite everything they were able to accomplish before the All-Star break.
Most notably, the Celtics have had the challenge of overcoming the absence of Robert Williams, who’s been sidelined due to a hamstring injury suffered March 3. Williams was on the floor running 3-on-3 drills in Utah before the contest, per video from Jay King of The Athletic.
“I spoke to him yesterday, seems (to be) in a good place,” Mazzulla told reporters of Williams before Saturday night’s game, per NBC Sports Boston. “Seems like he’s getting closer. I expect to see him out there soon.”
Mazzulla also hinted the possibility of Williams’ return coming Tuesday against the Sacramento Kings.
Whether or not Williams does suit up against the Kings, the Celtics must adapt and rediscover that next-man-up mindset that propelled them during their first 59 games. That includes re-establishing their identity, securing rebounds on both ends of the floor and finding ways to prevent opposing offenses from navigating late-game runs.
With 11 games left, including Saturday’s against the Jazz, the Celtics have enough time to resettle and put together the necessary momentum needed to assemble a deep push toward a return to the NBA Finals.