The Boston Celtics announced Thursday they are suspending head coach Ime Udoka for the entire 2022-23 season but the move had little impact on the Celtics’ betting markets.
However, I see this Udoka issue festering in the Boston organization this season. Udoka matters for the Celtics’ success, the East is better and there are holes in Boston’s roster.
Udoka’s Impact On The Celtics
Upon the Udoka news, my immediate reaction was to look for ways to short the Celtics. Coaching in the NBA is mostly a factor at the ends of the spectrum.
Meaning an awful coach with a weak roster can send organizations to tank mode by the All-Star break. Whereas elite coaches can put a fringe-title team over the top.
The most obvious example of this is Phil Jackson replacing Doug Collins as head coach of the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. We all know how that coaching switch turned out.
And while Udoka is no Phil Jackson, he did get a Boston team whose plateau was three Eastern Conference Finals appearances in five seasons to two games away from winning a title.
The Celtics couldn’t get over the hump with Brad Stevens as the coach. Stevens moving to the front office and hiring Udoka obviously paid off.
Boston’s mid-season turnaround in 2021-22 was remarkable. The Celtics went from below-.500 on January 21st (24-25) to finish as the 2-seed in the Eastern Conference entering the postseason.
Udoka instilled toughness and defensive tenacity into the Celtics. Boston PG Marcus Smart won NBA Defensive Player of the Year as the general of Udoka’s defense.
Celtics All-Star wings Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown stepped up their defense last season. Boston big Robert Williams III became one of the best defensive centers in the Association as well.
‘Splitting Hairs’ In The East
It’s one of the few seasons since the Jordan-Bulls dynasty that the Eastern Conference may have better teams than the West. You could make solid arguments for several teams to come out of the East.
In fact, three Eastern Conference teams are in the top five for best odds to win the NBA title. I’d actually power rank the Milwaukee Bucks (+800 to win the championship at DraftKings Sportsbook) ahead of the Celtics as the No. 1 team in the East.
But, Udoka’s suspension moves Boston below the Brooklyn Nets (+700), tying the Celtics with the Philadelphia 76ers (+1500) in my power rankings. I’d even listen to handicaps for the Miami Heat (+2000), Cleveland Cavaliers (+3000), or Toronto Raptors (+4500) beating Boston in a 7-game series.
Profiting Off Boston’s Misfortune
My favorite bet for the Celtics shitting the bed without their head coach is Boston’s UNDER 50.5 ALTERNATE REGULAR-SEASON WIN TOTAL (+190) at DraftKings Sportsbook.
The Celtics went Under 50.5 wins in Stevens’ final three seasons as the coach (2018-21). Also, Boston’s domination last season was more of a product of circumstance rather than the Celtics being a special team.
One-fifth of the NBA goes into tank mode right after the All-Star break. It’s a disgrace and someone should do something about that. Teams putting out G-League starting 5’s definitely helped the Celtics win 77% of their games post-All-Star break (17-5).
Boston is a team I’ll end up fading until it gets a true point guard. The Celtics play clumsy half-court offense, turn the ball over too much and settle for long, contested 2-pointers. They acquired G Malcolm Brogdon this offseason but he’s never healthy.
Between their head coach being suspended, the East improving and lack of a floor general, I’ll SPRINKLE on the BOSTON CELTICS UNDER 50.5 ALTERNATE REGULAR-SEASON WINS (+190) at DraftKings Sportsbook.
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