Can you feel it? That little spring in your step this morning? The easy way a smile comes to your lips? The sun is shining just a little brighter today and it has been for weeks now.
That's the subtle impact that sports can have on our lives as fans. We suffer through tough times and patiently wait through periods of drought for times like this. Sure, there are mountaintop moments like in 2008 that make the 2006-07 type valleys worth it. But along the way there are fields and forests and streams that make the journey special as well.
I guess what I'm getting at is that this team is really, really fun to watch right now. Sure winning covers over a multitude of sins and things could be better, but it goes beyond that for me. Even if a few more of the games in the last couple of weeks resulted in losses, they still would have been hard-fought, entertaining games to watch.
Think about what we value as Celtics fans. Teamwork, hard-nosed effort, defensive mindset, stepping up in big moments, never giving up, never backing down from a challenge. All those qualities are coalescing before our very eyes. This team is just flat out fun to watch and anyone can see it.
"They could make a run," former Celtics and current Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "Listen, they're not scared of anybody. They've got a bunch of junkyard dogs who can play. … You better be ready when you play them or you're going to lose to them."
Heading into the All Star break, just about everything is breaking right for the Celtics lately. They have reasonably good health (knocking furiously on wood), the rotation has tightened up as players have stepped up into roles, and Brad Stevens has them believing in themselves.
So when asked about the prospect of making a move at the deadline, Stevens understandably sounded hesitant.
"I think it would have to be something unique to continue to help our team," the Celtics coach said. "I think that we’ve got a lot of future flexibility, and we know that, and at the same time, we have a hard-playing group of guys. We can get better, we have to get better defensively, get back to guarding the way we want to. We have to limit the turnovers and continue to search for good shots when things are going poorly or well. "There’s a lot of room to improve with the group that’s in there. My focus will be on that. I will respond anytime they want to talk about anything that’s going through their minds, but we haven’t had any of those conversations."
Perfect Brad Stevens level-headed response. Don't get too high in the good times so you don't get too low in the bad. Embrace the stability of the present but don't rule out changes in the future. I don't know what's going to happen at the trade deadline but on some level I don't really care about the details. It just seems like whatever the future will bring, Brad Stevens will be able to coax the best out of the situation.
And it is easy to be optimistic riding on the wave of 10 wins in the last 12 games. They (probably) can't keep up this pace and none of it will matter in the big picture unless they make some noise in the playoffs. But there seems to be a great deal of reason to hope for bright days to continue in the future. And for once, that hope doesn't rely upon ping pong balls or potential free agents or trades.
Right here, in front of our eyes, this young and talented team is coming together under one of the best coaches in the game. That's something to embrace and enjoy.
Isaiah Thomas is a legit star. Jae Crowder is a beast. Evan Turner is found money. Sullinger and Olynyk are blossoming. Marcus Smart is a force of nature. I could go down the roster and talk about each one, but somehow that doesn't even feel right.
This is about a team. A whole that is somehow greater than the sum of its parts. They play for each other and they have developed a culture and unity that you can't define or measure but it has a very real impact on the outcome of games. Old friend Doc Rivers called it "ubuntu." KG called it "we not me." I don't care what you call it, I'm just going to enjoy it.
A little over a year ago this team was floundering and the halcyon days of Doc and Paul and KG seemed like a distant memory. Now we have a team that has an identity and a bright future ahead of it. It is a good time to be a fan.
This is fun.