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Celtics, Luka Doncic make statements in early part of season

At the quarter mark of the 2022-23 NBA season, it’s time to hand out some awards. (Graphic by Michael Wagstaffe/Yahoo Sports)

After a 12-game Wednesday slate, the NBA will take Thanksgiving off. When it puts the turkey and stuffing away to get back to work this weekend, though, most of the league’s 30 teams either will have played or will be approaching their 20th game — which puts us about 25 percent of the way through the 2022-23 season.

This can mean only one thing: It’s time to hand out some purely fictional, intangible and unable-to-be-displayed-in-a-trophy-case hardware. It’s time, dear friends, for First-Quarter Awards.

One quick (but important!) note before we get started: These picks are not intended to serve as predictions of which players or teams will take home the NBA’s official trophies come season’s end. Instead, they’re based solely on performance since opening night — an opportunity to push pause on the breakneck pace of the season, take stock of what’s transpired, and celebrate it. (Well, except for this one category. We’ll get to it.)

So let us come together, forming like Voltron, to commemorate the good stuff we’ve seen, starting with a squad that seems to have found the cure for the dreaded Finals hangover.

(All statistics as of Tuesday morning.)

Heading into the season, I wondered whether Boston — the favorite to win the 2022-23 championship, according to BetMGM — would be able to “withstand the internal upheaval now rocking the franchise” after the suspension of coach Ime Udoka, the elevation of young assistant Joe Mazzulla, and a worrying knee injury to center Robert Williams III. Well, so far, so good: Even with key pieces in and out of the lineup, the Celtics boast the NBA’s best record at 13-4 (with two of those three losses coming in overtime to a tough Cavs team) and its second-best net rating, outscoring opponents by 6.6 points per 100 non-garbage-time possessions, according to Cleaning the Glass.

Most of the attention lavished on Boston during its dominant run in the second half of last season understandably went to its meat-grinder defense. It’s worth…


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Publish date : 2022-11-23 18:59:19

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2022-11-25

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