A win is a win, and the Boston Celtics certainly are in no position to be picky about the way in which they earn them.
Brad Stevens perhaps put it best following the team’s 118-112 win over the Indiana Pacers on Friday:
“It’s good to get a win on a day that ends in “Y” right now,” the Celtics coach said in his postgame media availability. “That’s all I can say.”
It wasn’t an ugly win, by any means. It was hard fought, with Boston needing to claw itself out of an early 14-point deficit against a balanced offense that came out hot.
It was more so just an unusual victory.
One where Kemba Walker played like his sole purpose on the earth was to make sure the Celtics had at least a few points of separation all game after he lifted them out of an early hole. The bench added 39 points. The defense didn’t collapse. The movement was pretty good, not great.
Most out of the ordinary, though, was that neither Jayson Tatum nor Jaylen Brown lit up the scoreboard.
They played well, despite quieter games than the usual production they’ve taken upon themselves as the Celtics have been exhaustingly shorthanded all season.
Brown had 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists. After a quiet first half, Tatum accumulated nine points, nine rebounds four assists and a block.
But again, with or without the star wings carrying the team, anything is better than the way in which the Celtics have lost of late.
“It’s just good to get a win,” Stevens continued. “And I don’t care how we did it, other than stay together, play together, doesn’t matter who’s having an off night, doesn’t matter who’s having a great night. It’s about our team, finishing it and figuring out a way to win.”
Now, how do the Celtics bottle up their performance Friday tonight and pop it back open for next game?
Consistency is the true issue they’ve had all year, as we’ve seen what they’re capable of here and there, but not yet over a long stretch.
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Walker said it’s up to those who have been there before, and know what winning basketball looks like for Boston.
“We’ll figure it out,” the point guard said in his media availability after his 32-point performance.
“That’s on me, that’s on Jaylen, that’s on Jayson. That’s on Marcus (Smart). And then, you know, Tristan (Thompson) and Jeff (Teague) are going to add on to that as well. That’s on the veteran guys, as well as Brad, too. You know we’ve got to keep it together. You know, we can’t let nobody go in any other direction, even though no things might not be going as well as we would like it at the moment. But things can change really, so the only way you can get out of struggles is by doing it together.”
Easier said than done. Especially for an underachieving 15-16 team that’s lost nine of its last 15 games and has the All-Star break on the horizon.
Stevens knows how his team reacts to this adversity is crucial.
“Our greatest legacy that we leave, no matter how many games we win, is how we treat each other in these moments, and how we stay together so that we can ultimately become as good as we can be,” Stevens said. “And that’s it. So I think that the bench was loud. I think that the starters were loud. I think Kemba helped will us to a win and a lot of ways. But I think it was just a matter of everybody just deciding that the most important thing was to support each other and be together.”
So far it’s looked like Boston is handling struggles well, aside from the whole continued losing part. End to end — from majority owner Wyc Grousbeck to general manager Danny Ainge to superstar forward Jayson Tatum — members of the Celtics are holding themselves accountable. They say there’s no turmoil in the locker room, and that’s actually honestly easy to believe.
That could change, though. But the Celtics took a step in the right direction Friday. We’ll see if they keep it together.
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