It’s been a bumpy road for Ime Udoka since taking the Boston Celtics head coaching job. But right now, he’s proving himself to be one of the best young coaches in the NBA, leading his team into the Eastern Conference finals to face off against the Miami Heat.
Looking back to the start of the season, it never seemed like Boston would figure things out, at least not to this extent. Yet, Udoka stood strong and doubled-down on implementing his principal-based offensive and defensive systems, and now, the Celtics are reaping the benefits.
After the Celtics’ game seven victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, Jaylen Brown spoke glowingly of the first-year head coach, shedding some light on what makes Udoka tick behind the scenes.
“Fantastic. For a first-year coach, I feel like it’s unheard of. His level of poise and his level of confidence never changed. Even when we were down 2-1 or when we were down 3-2, you could tell by the look in his eyes that we were going to win this series.
We just needed to handle our business, and sometimes you can get in those moments and go away from everything or make over-adjustments. And he didn’t; we maintained our poise, kept our heads, kept our confidence, and was able to win this series,” Brown told reporters when asked about Udoka’s impact in the post-season.
Mike Budenholzer Praises Celtics Coaching Staff
Whenever two teams go to battle over a seven-game series, both sides inevitably develop a healthy respect for one another. Both Milwaukee and Boston pushed each other to the brink, forcing their opponents into deep waters in a series that could have gone either way.
Speaking after the Celtics won game seven and progressed to the conference finals, Bucks’ head coach Mike Budenholzer noted how impressed he was with Boston’s coaching staff, top to bottom.
“I just want to take a second to give a lot of credit, a lot of respect to the Boston players, the coaching staff, coach Udoka, phenomenal job. A ton of respect for them, I wish them the best going forward. They were the better team, seven game series. Lot of respect, a lot of credit to Boston,” Budenholzer told the media shortly after the end of his team’s season.
Celtics Keep Their Season Alive
Following their do-or-die victory at the TD Garden, the Celtics move on to the conference finals, where they will face the Miami Heat for the second time in three years.
The last time these two teams faced off, the Heat were victorious courtesy of some exceptional defense and a robust offensive gameplan. Still, the Celtics are a different team now and embrace the physical nature of the playoffs, which means we should be in for a good battle between Eastern Conference Titans.
Game one of the conference finals is set to take place on Tuesday, May 17 at 8:30 PM Eastern Time, with the Celtics heading to Miami for the opening two games before heading back to Boston for games three and four. Unlike their series against the Bucks, Boston doesn’t hold the home-court advantage, so they should want to avoid letting this series run to a game seven.