The Boston Celtics are in the NBA Finals for the first time in 12 years. A feat made possible by the spirited effort of the players, a la, Jayson Tatum, Jalen Brown, Marcus Smart Al Horford and Robert Williams III.
But one name that made it all possible is Ime Udoka – the Nigerian-American Coach of the team, who in his rookie season with the Greens is changing narratives.
What an incredible first year in Boston for Ime Udoka. 👏 pic.twitter.com/ZS8tHLHGAA— theScore (@theScore) May 30, 2022
Square Peg in Sqaure Hole
Udoka has proven to be just what the team needed. A new voice, fresh perspective and, as a former NBA player himself, the ability to hold players accountable where necessary.
He earned the respect of many of the Celtics players before joining forces at TD Garden when he was an assistant with the US National team in 2019. Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, and Jaylen Brown were all a part of that squad and were impressed working under Udoka.
After a quick coaching search, due to Brad Stevens taking reigns as General Manager, the Celtics organization came to an agreement with the perennial assistant and quickly, he began injecting his DNA into the side.
The 44-year old is credited to be a defensive mastermind, an excellent communicator and one of the brightest young faces of the NBA coaching profession.
Going Toe-to-Toe With the Golden State Warriors
The Warriors, led by three-time champions Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, are making their sixth Finals appearance in the past eight seasons. The Boston Celtics, meanwhile, are here for the first time since 2010.
This is the first Finals to feature the top two teams in defensive efficiency since 1996, when the Chicago Bulls defeated the Seattle SuperSonics.
Despite the offensive strengths of each team, this series will be a defensive clinic on both sides. Both coaches – Steve Kerr and Udoka served, at one time or the other as players and as assistants to long serving coach of the San Antonio Spurs, Gregg Poppovich, hence battle the battle for supremacy is on the horizon.
Both Steve Kerr and Ime Udoka are former Spurs players and Popovich coaching disciples … everything comes back to Pop. pic.twitter.com/FbrHR3Fwfb— Basketball Forever (@Bballforeverfb) May 31, 2022
An 18th Championship Possibility?
Now Udoka and the Celtics are just four wins away from lifting the Larry O’Brien trophy. It would be the first title in Boston since 2008, and Udoka would become the sixth coach to win an NBA Title in his rookie season.
For the Celtics, it is a chance at an 18th NBA championship — which would break the tie with the Los Angeles Lakers for the most in league history. For the Warriors, it’s a chance at a seventh crown, and would break a tie with the Chicago Bulls for third-most in league history.
It is also a rematch of the 1964 finals, when Bill Russell and the Celtics topped the Warriors in five games.
On June 28, Ime Udoka was introduced as the 18th head coach in franchise history, vowing to raise Banner 18 into the rafters. Udoka is now 4 wins away from keeping his word from almost exactly 1 year ago. #Celtics #BleedGreen pic.twitter.com/kX94bc8bii— The Celtics Files (@CelticsFiles) May 30, 2022