Celtics’ new starting five has real chance to rank among team’s best ever

The Boston Celtics are entering the 2023-24 NBA season with a talented and deep roster. They have added All-Star caliber players, Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis, to an already strong core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Derrick White, and Al Horford. On paper, the Celtics have the best roster in the league.

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla has indicated that his team will experiment with different starting lineups this season, given the influx of new players. It makes sense to find the best combinations that work well together. However, it is almost certain that Tatum, Brown, Porzingis, and Holiday will be starters when healthy. The fifth spot will likely be filled by either White or Horford, depending on the matchup.

Assuming a regular starting lineup of Holiday, White, Brown, Tatum, and Porzingis, this lineup is incredibly stacked. Tatum averaged over 30 points per game last season, becoming the first Celtics player to do so. Brown also had a career-high scoring season with 26.6 points per game. Both Tatum and Brown were All-NBA selections. Porzingis had a career-high 23.2 points per game and was an efficient shooter from beyond the arc. Holiday contributed with his scoring and elite perimeter defense. White is a versatile combo guard who excels in multiple aspects of the game.

This starting lineup is versatile, has great shooting, high-level defense, and athleticism. There are very few weaknesses in this group, making it one of the most formidable starting fives in the league. The main question will be whether the Celtics can stay healthy.

To determine if this lineup ranks among the best in Celtics history, we must look at past teams. Here are four of the best starting fives to ever grace the parquet floor:

1. 1986-87 Celtics
– Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish
– This lineup averaged 99.9 points per game, 10.4 more than the legendary 1985-86 team. McHale had a career-best season, leading the league in field goal percentage and earning All-NBA and All-Defensive honors. Bird became the first player to achieve the 50-40-90 shooting split. Parish provided stability and played a vital role in the frontline. Dennis Johnson was an exceptional defensive guard.

2. 2007-08 Celtics
– Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins
– This lineup featured the new “Big 3” and had phenomenal defense, led by Defensive Player of the Year, Kevin Garnett. The team’s focus on defense was contagious. Although none of the players averaged 20-plus points per game, they were all capable of scoring when needed. They won 66 games and secured the Celtics’ 17th championship.

3. 1972-73 Celtics
– JoJo White, Don Chaney, John Havlicek, Paul Silas, Dave Cowens
– This Celtics team won a franchise record 68 games but fell short of a championship. They had a strong lineup with MVP Dave Cowens leading the way. A Game 7 loss to the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals prevented them from reaching the NBA Finals.

4. 1964-65 Celtics
– K.C. Jones, Sam Jones, Tom Heinsohn, Tom “Satch” Sanders, Bill Russell
– This team won 62 games, the most by a Bill Russell-led Celtics squad. They defeated the Lakers in the NBA Finals, with Russell’s dominant rebounding and playmaking. With defensive stalwarts K.C. Jones and Tom “Satch” Sanders, and clutch performer Sam Jones, this team is considered one of the best in league history.

The new starting five for the Celtics has the potential to rank among the best in franchise history. With a mix of star power, versatility, and skill, they have the tools to achieve great success. However, only time will tell if they can surpass the legendary lineups that came before them.


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