The Boston Celtics are likely to suspend head coach Ime Udoka for an inappropriate workplace relationship. The news comes less than a year after Udoka helped engineer an improbable rally to the NBA Finals by the Celtics. The Celtics remain the betting favorites to win the 2022-23 NBA Championship across futures markets, but that feels unwarranted given the news about Ime Udoka’s impending suspension.
Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka is likely facing a suspension for the entire 2022-2023 season for his role in a consensual relationship with a female staff member, sources tell ESPN. A formal announcement is expected as soon as today.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 22, 2022
NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski also reports that assistant coach Joe Mazzulla would likely become Boston’s interim head coach for the 2022-23 season. Udoka has reportedly considered resigning. Regardless of whether he stays or leaves, the Celtics appear set to lose Udoka for the upcoming season, which will hurt the team’s performance significantly.
2022-23 NBA Betting Odds: Celtics Picks & Predictions
How Ime Udoka Suspension Affects Celtics Odds
The Celtics are yet to officially announce how they intend to discipline Udoka. But given how high the story has spread, it seems unlikely that he will at least start the year with Boston. The same is true of star center Robert Williams III, who required knee surgery and will miss training camp and the start of the season. Like Udoka, Williams was a pivotal part of Boston’s playoff run last season.
According to in-season reports, Boston’s turnaround falls squarely on Udoka. The head coach’s blunt methods helped Boston’s stars get the most out of themselves. He routinely challenged players to make smarter plays, fight harder on defense and even stay on the court despite being in pain. If interim coach Mazzulla can’t challenge Boston’s players in the same way – or, worse, if Mazzula does challenge Boston’s players in that way but lacks Udoka’s credibility – on-court performance could deteriorate.
Celtics Under 54.5 Wins | -128 at FanDuel
The 2021-22 Boston Celtics went 51-31. However, they sat multiple games below .500 as late as New Year’s Day, which is roughly around when most analysts pinpoint their turnaround. The current line of 54.5 requires some improvement out of Boston, although the same play they showed late in the year would certainly propel them to at least four more wins than last season.
Still, the Celtics face more challenges than losing Udoka. Boston won’t have center Williams to start the season. Newly acquired forward Danillo Gallinari tore his ACL during Olympic qualifying play for Italy. Boston shipped off fan-favorite Daniel Theis and Aaron Nesmith, along with other spare parts, but got Malcolm Brogdon out of it. The moves leave Boston thin at the four and five. While Grant Williams and Al Horford were able to make up for a sometimes-absent Williams in the playoffs, asking them to do that for weeks in the regular season won’t work – especially if the Celtics hope to have both healthy late in the year.
While the Celtics could always make another move to bolster the roster, any new players won’t have witnessed the winning team culture Udoka built last season. Mixing in Brogdon without him will already be a challenge, but the Celtics may have to choose between preserving their team culture from last season and building a sufficiently deep rotation.
Boston’s win total sat at 55.5 on Wednesday afternoon, but the Udoka news has caused most books to lower the number and stack the juice on the under. Yet other books have decreased the number even further. Boston’s win total sits at 52.5 at Superbook and 53.5 at WynnBet. Both DraftKings and FanDuel still have the number set to 54.5, so bettors looking to short Boston can head there for the best price. Of the last five 82-game seasons, only five Eastern Conference teams have won at least 55 games. Boston faces a tough path to a number that likely won’t remain this high moving forward. Bettors looking to get ahead of the Udoka news and short the Celtics should make this NBA futures bet at FanDuel.