Today’s Celtic Sunrise is brought to you by coaching cliches.
Brad Stevens will and should get a lot of credit for leading this group through injuries and roster turnover. However, we shouldn’t withhold credit from the players on the floor making plays and winning basketball games (12 in a row to be exact).
We’ve all heard the coach-speak cliches over the years. It takes a special group of players to fully buy in and seamlessly execute the coach’s vision. Let’s look at some of those cliches.
Never give up
Everyone preaches this concept...in theory. However, when faced with a 16-point deficit, you’ll find some players that don’t really believe it in their heart. They are happy to go through the motions and collect their check along with the L. Then there are some that have a deep hunger that says “I will not go down like this.” The danger of this attitude is to try to do too much, but this team seems to know how to re-focus and concentrate on the game plan and claw back into games. To me, nobody lives this life more than Marcus Smart, but that attitude can be infectious too.
Next man up
Injuries happen in sports. The Hayward injury was a particular gut-punch injury, but after the initial shock and recovery, you have to work with the team you have left. Losing Al Horford and Kyrie Irving for multiple games only doubles down on this concept. You need the next guy to step up and the guy behind him to step up and so on.
One game at a time
You can’t win 12 games in a row without consistency. You can’t win 12 games in a row by ignoring the opponent in front of you and being distracted by the next game or reveling in the streak itself. You focus on your routine, pay attention to the night’s scouting reports, and execute the gameplan. I think Al Horford in particular must be leading by example for this young team.
The players best equipped to score points for this team have missed several games. A lot of rookies and young players have had to carry the load in their absence. The offense hasn’t always looked fluid and there are times when the points don’t come quickly. Yet, the Celtics have continued to win basketball games through grit, effort, and making it very difficult for the other team to score points.
It’s a make-miss league
We can’t ignore the fact that in any winning streak there’s going to be an element of luck. Yes, the Celtics are making the right plays, but sometimes the other team is simply missing shots that could have made a difference. Like say a DeMar DeRozan shot at the top of the key that could have won the game for the Raptors but didn’t.
Make the right play
One thing that has impressed me (and a lot of people) about Kyrie Irving is that he’s been making an effort to make the right basketball plays. He is going to score in bunches, but thus far he hasn’t done it at the expense of the rest of the offense. Other players are getting touches and being trusted to make shots and/or plays. When you trust rookies to make key plays in October, they grow up faster, and they can make those plays in the spring as well.
Be the best version of you
This one is perhaps more of a Brad Stevens-ism, but you see this philosophy promoted a lot and with good reason. Jaylen Brown doesn’t have to be Gordon Hayward. He has to be the best Jaylen Brown he can be and trust his teammates to do their jobs. That doesn’t mean that he’s limited—if anything it empowers him to excel. Same goes for Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier, Aron Baynes, Shane Larkin, and right on down the line.
Brad Stevens can rattle off all these cliches and coachspeak, but if the team doesn’t buy in, they don’t even sniff a 12-game winning streak. This team is ballin’, and it is a lot of fun to watch. Many people, myself included, were worried about what kind of team identity this squad would have after losing so many dominant personalities. I don’t think anyone is worried about that right now.