The Boston Celtics underwent their first true test of the still-early 2023-24 season: overcoming the Brooklyn Nets without Derrick White.

“Test” became an overstatement when push came to shove at Barclays Center on Saturday night. The Nets stook around for the better part of three-plus quarters, relying on their fast-paced offense, but even that didn’t prove to be enough. Brooklyn’s grit couldn’t upstage Boston’s star power or its NBA-best scoring offense, keeping the Celtics yet again undefeated after five.

“Everybody’s shining, everybody’s playing a part,” Celtics star Jayson Tatum said after Boston’s 124-114 win over the Nets, as seen on NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage. “Guys coming off the bench, Oshae (Brissett), things like that. So, I love this team. We’re playing hard, we’re competing. Hopefully we keep it going.”

As expected, Tatum got his, scoring a game-high 32 points with 11 rebounds to A) record his third double-double of the season and B) become the youngest Celtics player ever to reach 10,000 career points. That was enough of a foundation for the rest to follow and send Brooklyn to the loss column.

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That alone didn’t keep Boston’s momentum red-hot, however. Instead, the Celtics leaned to their greatest strength which has made scoring a cakewalk on a nightly basis early on: depth.

Evident in its first five games played, whenever Boston’s down a piece or navigating through an off-night from one of its premier starters, the depth has restored any gaping holes. That’s an obvious plus and speaks to the work done by Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens, but it’s also commendable work for a new-look team to find their footing in less than 10 games played. We might not have even witnessed the peak of the Celtics yet which makes them even more of a must-watch team.

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Will the Celtics in early November be the same as the Celtics mid January?

“I thought our guys just continued to play hard, even though Cam Thomas, (Mikal) Bridges made some of those tough shots,” Celtics head coach Joe Mazulla said, per NBC Sports Boston. “And that’s the first key is to maintain a level of competitiveness and the next key is just in certain possessions being able to execute defensively.”

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In the first half in Brooklyn, Boston scored 70 points, recording its third consecutive 70-plus-point first half. Obviously, that’s not an easy task without White, who leads all guards in true shooting (80.9%), on the floor, but no less a test that the Celtics crushed.

Al Horford, who had played off the bench in Boston’s first four games, got the starting lineup nod — and showed up. The 37-year-old delivered eight points, shooting 4-of-7 with seven rebounds, three assists and a block. Horford was a game-leading plus-29, speaking to his elite level of efficiency without an eye-popping scoring figure.

Regardless of who Boston’s leading scorer is, the formula to every Celtics win, thus far, has been a collective effort fueled by several players of the game. Brooklyn was outscored, 25-17, in the final seven minutes, turning a potential nail-biter into a non-competitive race to the finish line.

Is that the formula for Banner 18, however? That question will follow Boston until its final buzzer sounds.

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Featured image via Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports Images