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Best Moments of the Celtics’ 2022-23 Season

Last Celtics season, as frustrating as it was, featured some of the most memorable individual moments from a single season I can remember. From the funny to the frustrating, here are my top-100 moments, plays and other things that happened during the 2022-23 season.

1. The Kornet Kontest – Tracking the numbers of shooters against it. Thinking for a minute maybe Luke Kornet innovated NBA defense. Watching Kristap Porzingis and others around the league emulate it. Hearing coaches like Erik Spoelstra and Steve Clifford shrug it off. What a time to be alive.

“Maybe it’s a good thing to do,” Clifford told CLNS Media. “It’s not gonna be as good as if you can get up into somebody and do it. I can tell you that. These guys play so much basketball, it’s like when they talk about going to different arenas. None of that matters to me. These guys can see the rim. The big number in shooting, at any level, is contested shots. Can you make somebody shoot quicker? Can you impact the shots with a hard contest? Which speaks to getting closer to them. So I may be wrong, but I can’t imagine that has, maybe it has an impact, but not nearly the impact it would have if you’re into somebody.”

2. Jaylen Brown blames Washington traffic — “Tonight, we just throw it away, get ready for the next one. It was a weird game. Traffic kind of messed everything up, threw everybody off. No excuse. We gotta be better, starting with me. We’ve been playing good basketball, just get back to it.”

3. Grant Williams & Jimmy Butler go “EYE TO EYE, NOSE TO NOSE”

4. Bus One Boys

5. Joe Mazzulla and the media — Loved the shared respect, frustration and everything in between that marked theirs and many in the media room’s relationship with the head coach. Mazzulla derided Gary Washburn’s use of the word excruciating, taught reporters about confabulation and broke bread over the importance of spacing.
“I thought we responded pretty well,” Mazzulla said, answering Dan Schaunnessy’s question.
“Well the lead went from 32 to 12,” Schaunnessy said.
“Was it supposed to go to 52?” Mazzulla asked.

6. Derrick White’s Game 6 put back — A legendary moment in Boston sport’s history that’ll unfortunately become closer to a foot note after the Celtics lost Game 7 to the Heat in blowout fashion. White’s put back with 0.1 seconds remaining on the clock, facing elimination, affirmed White’s sensational second season in Boston. The awareness to cut after Marcus Smart launched the three-pointer, the confidence knowing he got the shot off and the bench’s reaction awaiting the official word are why we watch.

7. Al Horford’s hard smack on Grant Williams — Ouch.

8. Tatum Game 6 turnaround

From 11 straight misses, 1-for-14 to a fourth quarter three-point onslaught in the greatest turnaround I’ve seen by a player in a single game. Tatum scored 16 points on the road and saved himself from a summer of massive scrutiny, and soon extended Boston’s season with a massive Game 7.
“Humbly, I’m one of the best basketball players in the world,” Tatum said post-game. “Go through struggles, go through slumps, but it’s a long game.”
9. Jaylen Brown wears a mask after Tatum collision

“I think I should be fine as long as I stay away from Jayson Tatum,” Brown said.
10. Marcus Smart says he could’ve cracked Embiid’s head open on opening night, but chose not to

11. Al Horford elite shooter exchange
Horford shot 44.6% from three while becoming nearly an exclusive three-point shooter in the Celtics’ spacing offense. During the second round, he asserted his shooting prowess in a memorable way.

I loved Horford letting his hair down and having fun more often last year, this shimmy would’ve been remembered as a top moment if the Celtics won Game 4.

12. Kornet celebrations/Stromile Swift
Josue had to let me know about Stromile Swift after Luke Kornet explained the origin of his memorable celebration. Later, Kornet looked in his bag and found himself, among other great celebrations.

Another honorable mention: Luke’s podcast.

13. Blake Griffin spot starts
Didn’t enter the season expecting much from Griffin, and it’s still uncertain how he ended up receiving spot starts when Horford sat, but they became one of my favorite things about last season. Griffin thrived when called upon for extended runs, and given that he rarely played otherwise, he brought some throwback freshness and fun to those nights.

14. Blowout win vs. Nets forces Kyrie Irving to demand a trade
Irving spoke about solving the Celtics after a 139-96 romping that probably marked Boston’s most dominant win all season. Within days, he demanded a trade from Brooklyn and landed in Dallas. The February loss became Irving’s last game as a member of the Brooklyn Nets.

15. Marcus Smart says Joe Mazzulla has been PHENOMENAL, shoutout Bobby

16. Marcus Smart says Joe Mazzulla has been killed, and “rightfully so.”
Truly one of the most unbelievable quotes I’ve ever heard from a player during the heat of the second round against Philadelphia and Mazzulla scrutiny. Some thought it was a slip of the tongue, but the entirety of Smart’s commentary, ‘Joe’s learning … needs to make some adjustments,’ wasn’t super endearing.

17. LeTantrum ends Lakers-Celtics
Another unforgettable moment. As Josue and I watched from above, I asked, ‘does Patrick Beverley have a camera?’

18. Jaylen Brown takes mask OFF vs. ATL G4
Brown started 1-for-7 with the mask, took it off, also removing the device from his hand, to finish 11-for-15 with the win on the road against the Hawks.

19. Jaylen’s hand “Burst” after the gardening incident
I slightly misquoted Brown’s description of his hand injury. Brown cut his hand on a vase while watering his plants in April, adding to his injury woes.

20. Joe Mazzulla does a barrel roll in front of Marcus Smart in the LR
Adam Himmelsbach asked if it was a thing between them. It wasn’t, though both Celtics shared a love of martial arts. I was out of the locker room in Miami at the time. I just missed maybe the funniest moment of the year.

21. Mike Gorman gets an eye patch

22. Joe Mazzulla says the only royal family he acknowledges is Jesus, Mary & Joseph – fans boo royals
Jaylen Brown shrugged off the moment too, as Celtics fans and players hilariously chided the royal presence.

23. Tatum vs. Brown All Star showdown
In a legitimately epic moment in Utah, Brown and Tatum took over the All Star Game while the league’s stars watched.

24. Pierce & Garnett visit the practice facility
Garnett hilariously spooked Gary Washburn from behind as he and Pierce arrived to visit the team and record a podcast with Smart, Brown and Tatum.

25. Bobby & Josue spill the beans on Max
This landed us on Max’s s*** list for the rest of the season. Whoops.
26. Joe Mazzulla duct taping his mouth while sleeping, showing up to the game at 11 a.m., chewing gum, timeouts, running away from reporters in Milwaukee
All of these could’ve been their own great moment, as Mazzulla unexpectedly became one of the most entertaining aspects of this Celtics season. Whether his personal wellness methods, strict routine, Washburn and I catching him arriving to a night game before noon as the Pacers finished shootaround, chewing gum incessantly, or forcing us to nearly chase him to the bus after a tough loss in Milwaukee, Mazzulla proved to be a different kind of coach.

27. Grant dressing up as Batman for Halloween

28. Derrick White’s dad tweeting
Richard White became one of the best Celtics Twitter follows last season, between his constant interaction, defensive metric posts and penchant for memes.

29. Sam Hauser exploding – 3Sam, Tax Man
Hauser was great last year, including his game-tying three to force overtime in the short-handed loss at Milwaukee. His signing couldn’t have gone much better.

30. Mike Muscala arriving & rarely playing
Loved Mike Muscala. We talked golf, he seemed to fit the vibe of the locker room, but outside of breaking out in his first week, he rarely played, then left in the Porzingis trade this summer. All the best. He could definitely shoot.

Muscala also battled Kornet in this great full-court one on one.

31. Pritchard explosions – triple double, trade demand, benching all year
Payton Pritchard capped the regular season with a 30-point triple double after sitting for most of the season and reportedly hoping for a trade after losing his role to Malcolm Brogdon. Pritchard typically thrived when called upon, overcame a bad heel injury and finished the season strong. His answer after the triple-double was one of my favorites this season. Glad he’ll be back next year, though the standing ovations when he enters do become a bit much.

32. Malcolm Brogdon is perfect and wins 6th man
Forget the ending. Brogdon played nearly perfect for his role this season, and beat out a strong push by Immanuel Quickley for sixth man recognition. I’ve never watched a player who shot so consistently game-to-game as he did last year, lacking a slump for nearly the entire regular season. I’ll remember him speaking up late in the east finals over the bitter ending with his arm injury.

33. Danilo Gallinari showing up suited for every game
Credit to Danilo Gallinari, who traveled and showed up constantly last year when he didn’t need to rehabbing from injury. He also gave the team some tips against his former Hawks in round one in team meetings.

34. The music
Jayson Tatum and trainer Isaiah Covington made themed music playlists for shootarounds depending on where the team played on the road. At home, Jay Z and 90s throwbacks became staples, but Covington told me he needed to suit his playlists for a variety of tastes on the team.

35. Damon Stoudamire coaches while Joe’s eyes are hurt
Damon Stoudamire was great to meet, interview and cover while he coached his first two NBA games in Mazzulla’s absence, another strange incident surrounding the head coach when eye injuries left him out for a pair of games midway through the season. Tatum didn’t notice a significant difference, except Mazzulla wasn’t “chewing the s*** outta some gum” along the sideline. Stoudamire won both games, later leaving in April for the head coaching job at Georgia Tech.

36. The coaches scrimmages
Mazzulla got injured in a routine coaching scrimmage, which began under Ime Udoka and continued, drawing Brian Scalabrine’s interest. They apparently featured no fouls, as Mazzulla, the former West Virginia star, practically tackled the rest of the coaching staff to gain an edge. We never got into the scrimmages, but they seemed intense according to this TNT video. Ben Sullivan, Aaron Miles and Tony Dobbins and more would battle after shootarounds, too, in preparation for the pre-game scrimmage.

37. J.D. Davison
Had a fun season up in Maine. We’ll see what he can turn it into. As always, love the hair.

38. Tatum & Deuce
39. Revenge vs. Warriors at home
One of Boston’s best wins this season. Jayson Tatum led the C’s with 34 points.

40. Marcus Smart married

41. Eddie House becoming an announcer
Enjoyed Eddie each time he appeared on the broadcast. We’ll see how he factors into it beyond Gorman.

42. Perk & Scal broadcast in Houston
This…was not quite as enjoyable.

43. Kevin Gelle
Shoutout to Mfiondu Kabengele, whose name often went misspelled by our audience.

44. Rob admits he was a dumb ass on one play

45. CoachGPT
46. Smart & Blake fight Philly fans

47. HORSE games, Ben Sullivan makes fun of White
Derrick White, Grant Williams and assistant coach Ben Sullivan regularly played HORSE after practice and shootaround.

48. Wicked Smarts

49. Joe Mazzulla wrestles for the ball with Nesmith

50. Robert Williams hits a jump shot
Long-awaited, Mazzulla said after the game he’d prefer if Williams wouldn’t take this shot.

51. Finding a Kornet card
Josue passed me a Frank Kornet rookie card, Luke’s father who played two seasons for the Bucks, that I later returned to Luke in Atlanta. Luke told me fans often pass those to him. Frank told me a great story about facing Larry Bird at the Boston Garden, pulling off the best game of his short NBA career with seven points.
52. Tatum leaner in OT win vs. LA
Best game of the regular season. The ground beneath us on press row was shaking.

53. Grant Williams goes to the All Star Game

54. White’s ear bursts and he has to fly home alone from MIL, plays next game
White ended up appearing in all 82 Celtics games.

55. Grant says Imma make both…then misses in loss vs. CLE
The most infamous moment of the season. Grant Williams missed two free throws that could’ve won the game.

56. Smart gets ejected for making fun of Romeo Langford

57. Net gets tilted and Celtics-Nuggets gets delayed about 45 minutes
Sean Grande sounded terrified during an ensuing game when arena workers began making adjustments to the rim. I’m not sure we’ll see a delay quite like this again.

58. Ball guy sprints off the court as fast break approaches, Tatum & Co. laugh

59. Joe “I love you” after Brown lost the game at FT line vs. the Knicks

60. Horford “timeout” and other celebrations

61. Angry. Pissed.

62. Joe: I saw his face

I asked Mazzulla what he saw when Brown removed his mask in Game 4.

63. Joe doesn’t care about coaching ASG

64. Joe would run marathon until he died

65. Derrick White’s dad game winner call

Richard later told me it was White’s first NBA game-winner. Whoops.

66. Tatum game tying play vs. CLE

67. Tatum game-winning play vs. PHI, Embiid heave seconds later
What a crazy sequence of events. Embiid knew the heave wasn’t good immediately. I wasn’t sure. This was probably the runner-up to the aforementioned Lakers game for best regular season game. I loved Mike Breen adjusting in real time to calling off Tatum’s first-round game winner against the Nets.

68. Grant ejected
The start of a difficult season for Williams.

69. Justin Champagnie

70. Joe: ‘the mind searches for a solution’

71. Tatum’s floater
It got better and better all season, and every time he utilizes it, I can’t contain my excitement. He needs this shot.

72. Brown demanding to guard Harden in the playoffs
Brown similarly asked to guard Luka during the regular season. He can be a great defender when he’s locked into one matchup.

73. Luke’s lemon squares
Probably my favorite story of the season.
74. Christmas blowout over the Bucks
Complete with a scuffle between Jaylen and the Bucks at the end. Boston dominated Milwaukee last season.

75. Tatum explosion vs. Hornets

76. White wins player of the week
77. Isaiah Thomas returns to TD Garden
I got to meet him briefly and tell him how crucial his time with the Celtics was in formulating my career. Was a cool moment.

78. Red Sox 3-0 comeback push
How many times did we hear about the 2004 Red Sox once the Celtics went down 0-3 in the east finals? I’m still stunned they forced a Game 7.

79. Celtics players bring back defensive emphasis
Music to my ears. The 0-3 deficit finally led to an acknowledgement of many season-long problems. Al Horford added that Boston let too many of them fester earlier in the playoffs.

80. Wyc storms Celtics locker room after going down 3-0
Wyc Grousbeck reportedly told the Celtics to play with some balls.

81. Smart leading Celtics bench through timeouts

82. Brown says Grant can be an asset

83. Tito Horford constantly being around the team

84. Grant reffing summer league scrimmages

85. Ime Udoka suspended and later fired
The most stunning scandal in recent Celtics history began last season. Without answers, it largely defined the season with Boston’s vocal leader from the previous year removed, then soon gone. It’s still amazing, less than a year later, how much the sideline and culture has changed.

86. Sam Hauser dunks three times out of nowhere
His brother Joey Hauser told me in the hallway his confidence must’ve reached another level to pull that off.

87. Blake Griffin fight with Kris Dunn

88. Doc Rivers gives an emotional tribute to Heather Walker

89. Bill Russell tributes

90. Kevin Durant makes fun of my accent
91. Celtics visit the White House

92. A heated Christmas debate
93. Will Hardy’s press conference
Maybe my favorite press conference of the season. The Celtics missed Will Hardy last season.

94. Mazzulla: Don’t play in overtime games

95. Tatum dunks on Nesmith bad

96. Fan hugs Tatum

97. Tatum dunks on Giannis

98. Jaylen mistakes BHI for Ques
An unfortunate moment last season, and an unbelievable excuse.

99. Related: my favorite back page from last season during the Kyrie suspension 

100. Tatum ejected from preseason game

Bobby Manning

Boston Celtics beat reporter for CLNS Media and host of the Garden Report Celtics Post Game Show. NBA national columnist for Boston Sports Journal. Contributor to SB Nation's CelticsBlog. Host of the Dome Theory Sports and Culture Podcast on CLNS. Syracuse University 2020.

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