NBA Finals: Bolton Celtics heading down with confidence, coach Udoka says
June 1, 2022
Despite the Boston Celtics' first appearance in the NBA Finals in over a decade, first-year coach Ime Udoka isn't celebrating. The last time Boston won the Finals was back in 2008 where players like Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen were still on the team and coached by Doc Rivers. Now, the team composition is completely different compared to 14 years ago.
Udoka noted that the team isn't planning to hang a banner celebrating its Eastern Conference title. Instead, it's focusing on the bigger picture and moving on to the next step.
During a press conference following Game 7, Udoka said that the players' mindsets have changed following the series win. They're already talking about the next step, enjoying the moment.
"It's a bigger picture. I think guys' mindsets have flipped pretty quickly. Enjoy it. Guys relish that, and you have this time off. Even [Sunday] night in the media sessions [after Game 7], and obviously with us in the locker room, guys are already talking about what's next and the bigger picture at hand. This isn't what we came to do. You enjoy it and move on pretty quickly to the task at hand," Udoka stated.
Udoka not intimidated by Golden State Warriors
The task for the Celtics is to beat the Golden State Warriors. Since 2015, the Warriors have made five straight appearances in the NBA Finals. They won three championships during that span.
Since the Warriors have many games of NBA Finals experience, they enter the series against the Celtics with an advantage. On the other hand, the Celtics have not had a single player on their roster who has participated in a Finals game.
Despite the disparity in experience, Udoka is not concerned about the lack of experience on the Celtics' side. He concluded that the team's assistant coaches have a lot of experience in the NBA Finals, including Ben Sullivan, who won a championship with the Milwaukee Bucks last year. Udoka also won a title during his time with the San Antonio Spurs.
The head coach noted that the team's assistant coaches have a lot of experience in the NBA Finals, including Ben Sullivan, who won a championship with the Milwaukee Bucks last year. Udoka also worked with some of these individuals during his time with the Spurs.
The 44-year-old head coach explained that the team would talk about the various aspects of the upcoming series with the players. Although a few young individuals on the team have not been to the NBA Finals, Udoka is not concerned about their lack of experience. He said that the group's veteran players, such as Al Horford and Marcus Smart, are still very level-headed and will continue to keep the team in line.
Prepare, rest for NBA Finals
Despite being the underdog, Udoka said that the players are still focused on playing the game as it is and not taking anything for granted. The Celtics will be taking advantage of the time they have to prepare for the series and the rest of their preparation.
Aside from getting a break from the regular season, the Celtics will also be able to give Robert Williams III and Marcus Smart a couple of days to rest their left knee soreness. Throughout the playoffs, Williams has been struggling with this issue, and Smart has been dealing with various ailments, such as his ankle, foot, and quad.