The Boston Celtics have put their loss to the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals behind them and are fully focused on lifting the Larry O'Brien Trophy in 2023.
That loss still stings, but the Celtics have shown much improvement since being defeated in the Finals, and they will get the opportunity to show the Warriors what they're made of when they match up for the first time this season on Saturday.
Golden State isn't taking Boston lightly, either, with head coach Steve Kerr telling reporters Friday that the Celtics, led by the duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, have undeniably been the best team in the league this year.
"I'm sure the motivation from last year is there and is driving them," Kerr said. "They've been, by far, the best team in the league."
In last season's Finals, the Celtics fell to the Warriors in six games and saw their offense sputter. Boston averaged 100.8 points against Golden State, down from the 105.0 points they averaged in the Eastern Conference Finals and the 111.8 from the regular season.
Reeling from that loss, the Celtics have turned their disappointment into meaningful success this season, and they're reaping the benefits.
While Boston's defense hasn't been nearly as good, the team currently has the best offense in the NBA with a 119.9 offensive rating. The next-closest team is the Phoenix Suns, which have a 116.3 offensive rating.
The Celtics have also greatly improve their shooting. Last season, they shot 46.6 percent from the floor and 35.6 percent from deep. This year, they're shooting 49.3 percent from the field and a league-best 40 percent from beyond the arc.
The meteoric rises of both Tatum and Brown have certainly contributed to Boston's offensive success, but the addition of Malcolm Brogdon and the improvement of players like Grant Williams have helped propel the C's this year.
Beyond shooting, the Celtics have also improved their spacing and off-ball movement. Additionally, they're committing far fewer turnovers this year, averaging just 13.8 turnovers, which is the sixth-best mark in the NBA.
A lot of the team's success can be attributed to interim head coach Joe Mazzulla, who appears to have taken this team to its potential.
The Celtics enter Saturday's game against the 13-13 Warriors with a 21-5 record, and they'll be looking to capture one of their biggest wins of the season.