Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu45a was named Eastern Conference Coach of the Month after Boston’s elite 12-2 run through December to end 2023.

Mazzulla, now in Year 2 at the helm, has helped the Celtics set the tone amid a much-anticipated campaign filled with championship expectations. Most notably, the team has leaned on various rotations and contributors from the reserve unit to pitch in and keep the train running, keeping Boston atop with an NBA-best 26-7 record through 33 games played.

“I think Joe’s done a great job of, right out of the gate, saying, ‘This is how we need to be, this is what we need to do for each other to be the best we can be,'” Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens told reporters Thursday at team practice, per CLNS Media video. “… People use the word sacrifice a lot. It’s the idea of serving your team, being there for the good of your group and I think he’s done a great job of that all the way through.”

During a recent four-game road trip, on Dec. 20 and 23rd, the Celtics took the floor without Kristaps Porzingis and then Jayson Tatum, respectively, and gutted out impressive victories — scoring over 14 points on both instances.

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The difference between Boston’s current squad from last season’s, which also carried the weight of Banner 18 aspirations, is crystal clear.

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Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, while still young, have taken great strides in setting the tone and making sure the Celtics put each other in a position to shine each night. Rather than succumbing to predictable offensive possessions on a routine basis and failing to utilize the multiple weapons on the floor, Boston has done its part in establishing a team-first identity.

Maintaining that will be critical moving forward.

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Featured image via Daniel Dunn/USA TODAY Sports Images