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Boston Celtics Next Coach Odds: Doc Back in Boston?

Bill Speros for Bookies.com

Bill Speros  | 5 mins

Boston Celtics Next Coach Odds: Doc Back in Boston?

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The Boston Celtics could be on their way to their fourth head coach in four seasons following their calamitous tumble in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. 

The Celtics and first-year head coach Joe Mazzulla were smoked by Miami at home in Game 7 after rallying from an 0-3 deficit to tie the series. Boston was the No. 2 seed in the East, favored to win it all entering the Eastern Conference Finals, according to NBA futures odds, while Miami sat at No. 8. Boston won 57 games this season. It was coming off a trip to the NBA Finals last season. 

All of this intensified the disappointment and ire triggered by Boston’s woeful performance against the Heat in the finale. Boston blew second-half leads in their two home losses to begin the series. 

In the critical Game 3 in South Beach, Boston was overwhelmed early, trailed by 15 at the half before eventually falling behind by as many as 33 points in third quarter during the 128-102 loss. And in Game 7, the Celtics were done at halftime. 

The Celtics are arguably the most talented, deepest team in the NBA. So failure like this falls squarely at the feet of the head coach. Mazzulla, who was tossed into the lead role after the Ime Udoka scandal, was thoroughly out-coached by Erik Spoelstra. It's hard to imagine he's back. 

That said, Bookies.com handicapper Adam Thompson has provided his hypothetical NBA odds on who will coach the Celtics in 2023-24.

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Boston Celtics Next Head Coach Odds

Coach Odds Probability
Joe Mazzulla+25028.6
Doc Rivers+35022.2
Monty Williams +45018.2
Frank Vogel+55015.4
Mike Budenholzer +60014.3
Charles Lee+10009.1
The Field+70011.8

Odds are projected and do not reflect any odds that may be available at legal betting sites or betting apps. The probability won’t necessarily add up to exactly 100% because each wager is a separate entity.)

Doc Rivers Offers Link To Past And Possible Future 

Doc Rivers coached the Celtics to their last championship in 2008. Rivers took the team to the NBA Finals, and the conference finals in 2012 before leaving after that season. Rivers has a championship pedigree (having won a ring as their coach). That’s something no one on the Celtics can claim. Rivers would have immediate credibility with both players and the fan base. 

Rivers left Boston on rocky terms, but that was a decade ago. He was fired by the 76ers after Boston bounced them in 7 games. Rivers failed to get Philly over the hump, as he failed leading the Clippers. 

Monty Williams won plaudits for his performance coaching the Suns in the bubble. But his Suns, too, fell short of expectations last season and this one. The same fate befell Mike Budenholzer after his Bucks went from being NBA champions, to being ousted by Boston in the Conference Semifinals in 2022, to getting ousted by the Heat in the first round of the postseason this year. 

Mazzulla Given Surprising Opportunity After Udoka’s Exit

A former Celtics assistant, Mazzulla was given the clipboard just a week before the season began. The Celtics suspended (and eventually fired) Ime Udoka. Now coach of the Rockets, Udoka engaged in a consensual relationship with a subordinate Celtics employee in the front office that violated the team’s sexual harassment policy. 

The full details of exactly why Udoka was pushed aside remain officially sparse because of the nature of his alleged actions and the privacy considerations of those involved. 

Brad Stevens coached Boston from 2013-21. He took a job as team president and hired Udoka as his replacement before last season. In Udoka’s first year with Boston, the team took the Golden State Warriors to six games in the NBA Finals last spring. 

Rookie Coach Stumbles Badly In Playoffs 

Mazzulla, 34, generated Coach of the Year buzz given Boston’s run in the regular season without Udoka. The Celtics began the season 21-7 and it appeared on the surface that the players had made the seamless transition. Recent reports by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and others have suggested otherwise.  

Mazzulla’s play calling style and his unwillingness to use timeouts became an issue the second round against the 76ers. Both Atlanta and Philadelphia pushed Boston to 7 games in its first two playoff series this year. It’s likely the fatigue and the players’ faith in Mazzulla influenced their terrible performance against Miami to start that series before rallying to force a Game 7. 

The reputation that Mazzulla has is one of an analytics-based coach who sets his players in motion and lets them follow the plan during the game. The numbers never lie. But they don’t always tell the truth, either. 

The combination of Eric Spoelstra and Pat Riley smothered Mazzulla and his stat charts when it mattered. Their pre-game and in-game adjustments left the Celtics flailing and the Heat rolling to the Finals as a No. 8 seed.  

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About the Author

Bill Speros for Bookies.com
Bill Speros
Bill Speros is an award-winning journalist and editor whose career includes stops at USA Today Sports Network / Golfweek, Cox Media, ESPN, Orlando Sentinel and Denver Post.