When the Boston Celtics announced during the 2022-23 season that they were parting ways with head coach Ime Udoka after suspending him before training camp, fans were devastated, and rightfully so. The Celtics had just gone to the NBA Finals in Udoka’s first year, and it appeared the Celtics had their coach for the next decade. Boston ultimately recovered and had a good season under Joe Mazzulla, but Udoka was forced to sit back and watch all of last season from his home.
Now flash forward a year later, and Udoka is the head coach of the Houston Rockets, who are 6-3 through their first nine games and sitting in the number four seed in the Western Conference.
The start that the Rockets are off to should not be surprising, considering Udoka is an excellent head coach. He commands a locker room, and he gets the best out of his players. The Rockets currently are top ten in both offensive and defensive ratings, and they are also top ten in net rating. Sound familiar?
The Celtics were the same dominant force under Udoka, and the best version of the Celtics during the Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown era was under Udoka. Although Udoka’s time with the Cs ended poorly, Celtics fans should be happy for Udoka that he is back in the league and doing an excellent job. It also is a reminder of how special the Celtics could have been if Udoka stuck around longer.
Ime Udoka's success adds pressure for Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla
The recent developments with Udoka also apply more pressure on Mazzulla because if Udoka coaches the Rockets to the playoffs and the Celtics once again fall short of a title, Mazzulla will be blamed. It now creates a very interesting dynamic for the remainder of this Celtics season.
Although it has almost no shot of happening, imagine the Celtics face Udoka and the Rockets in the NBA Finals. That would be one heck of a story.
Mazzulla would be made or broken in such a hypothetical.