The Boston Celtics defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 135-100 Wednesday night, improving to a 60-16 record and clinching the first overall spot in the 2023-24 NBA season. The last time the Celtics earned this regular season honor, they went on to win the 2007-08 NBA Championship.

“It’s very hard to do. We may never be in this position again,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said after the game. “We talked about it as a team. We talked about it before the game, to try to treat this game as the clincher. To kind of put that on ourselves to be able to do that. I think it was important for us to simulate that. … We should enjoy it tonight, and when wake up tomorrow – nobody cares.”

Boston has been a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference for several seasons now, but the team ascended to new heights this year. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the team’s franchise duo, have consistently performed at an All-Star level, with Tatum even considering outside consideration for MVP honors. Meanwhile, newly acquired big man Kristaps Porzingis has been a massive difference maker, giving the team an elite third option to accompany lethal three-point shooting.

With six games remaining in the regular season, Boston will have plenty of time to prepare for the playoffs as the first seed in the Eastern Conference. However, a high seed did very little to help the team last year. As the second seed in the 2023 playoffs, the Celtics underperformed in back-to-back series against the Hawks and 76ers before they finally fell to the eighth-seeded Miami Heat in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.

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“We’re not skipping any steps,” Brown said after the team’s win over the Thunder. “Sixty wins. I think we’re on track. When the playoffs start, it’s back to square one.”

Though the Celtics have earned a reputation for continually falling short in the past decade, they have finally transformed from a contender to the main threat in the 2023-24 season. The failed dynasty, as the Tatum-led franchise has often been called, may just be getting started.

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