Celtics set for a pivotal month as the 2023/24 NBA season gathers pace

Boston Celtics will head into 2024 with their sights firmly set on claiming the number one seeding for the Eastern Conference play-offs.

The Celtics had an extremely productive December in the NBA, winning 14 of their 16 matches to strengthen their grip on top spot in the standings.

Online bookmakers have been suitably impressed by their recent performances, cutting them into odds of 3/1 to claim their 18th NBA championship.

Intriguingly, the Celtics’ sizeable fanbase in Ireland can steal a march on their counterparts in the United States by backing them on sportsbooks in their homeland.

Odds of 7/2 on some of the 10 best sport betting apps undoubtedly look tempting and may well attract plenty of interest for Irish bettors over the next few weeks.

Regardless of where Celtics fans have been watching the team’s progress in recent weeks, they will undoubtedly have had their expectation levels raised.

The team ended their 2023 fixtures on a positive note, recording a 134-10 victory at San Antonio Spurs to take their season record to 26-6.

They took a 12-point lead into the half-time break, before blitzing the home side 40-23 in the third quarter to put the result beyond any doubt.

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum inevitably led the scoring, combining for 49 points despite being used sparingly once the game had been put to bed.

While Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla was pleased with the final result, he admitted that his team still had some areas for improvement.

“I thought there were about four or five possessions where we weren’t great guarding the rim, which allowed them to get some lay-ups to their right hand,” Mazzulla told the Boston Globe.

“We just had to turn it up a little bit. We see we’re not at our best when we’re not organised offensively and when we’re not detailed defensively.

“But we got ourselves out of it quick. As long as we’re taking accountability for what we’re doing and have awareness to that, I think we can get out of it quicker.”

Mazzulla’s attention to detail has been a key component of the Celtics’ stellar form during the early part of the season and he will be eager to ensure there are no slip-ups over the next few weeks.

Their January schedule is extremely tough, with 12 of the 15 games scheduled against teams currently in contention for a play-off spot.

Their fixtures include tricky visits to Oklahoma Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves, both of whom are riding high in the Western Conference.

However, the standout fixture is on January 11, when the Celtics travel to face Eastern Conference title rivals Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bucks will be gunning for revenge after losing 119-116 in Boston earlier this season and are guaranteed to be formidable opponents on their own court.

Mazzulla’s team started quickly in their victory over the Bucks, racing into a 67-53 half-time lead before resisting a late fightback from the visitors.

If the Celtics can avoid any major setbacks during their tough January schedule, they would be well on course to claim top spot in the Eastern Conference at the end of the season.