The Boston Celtics fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder in their first taste of competitive basketball since the NBA was suspended. After the defeat, Brad Stevens provided insight into what he perceived as the most important lesson for his team:
“I thought the most interesting part, and there’s nobody else in here, but I thought Chris Paul dominated the game with his voice. That’s going to be critical as you move forward, to be connected and communicating and doing those types of things. That was a great lesson for us.”
Under normal circumstances, players have to be loud and vocal for their voices to carry above the roar of a packed stadium. During quieter spells of a game, you will regularly hear players yelling out “switch,” “ice,” or “screen!” Each team member operates as an extra pair of eyes for their teammates, vocalizing opponents’ positions and encouraging timely reactions on both sides of the floor.
That isn’t necessarily the case with the current Celtics. Per Stevens:
“We’re a fairly quiet group generally, and I think that’s going to have to change collectively, just because of this environment. It’s so unique that the collective voice of a group is going to be so important. So, I think that everybody’s going to have to do their best to make sure they communicate and help each other through.”
Communicating at a higher level is something Stevens believes the team is capable of, citing Paul’s vocal dominance as the most important lesson from the Celtics loss.
“The best thing we take away from this is we all heard Chris Paul dominate the game with his voice. If we were playing the whole game, they would’ve won, because he was dominating the game with his voice.”
Chris Paul certainly left his impression on one of the Celtic’s veterans, as Gordon Hayward noted in his media availability on Saturday.
“We saw first hand, one of the best in the entire league at that. That’s what he (Paul) does; he makes his team better in that way, so we have to do that for our team as well.”
For a team as young as the Celtics, this lesson could prove to be invaluable. By continually communicating and doing so at a high level, players can elevate each other’s games.
Tremont Waters was certainly taking mental notes, as he described what it was like to witness the Chris Paul Experience first hand:
“Being a young point guard, I actually watch Chris Paul and try to emulate his game as much as possible, because we’re a smaller guard.”
Waters then continued to elaborate on Paul’s constant communication when on the floor:
“Being in the arena with no fans and being able to hear everything he says, I’m definitely learning, picking his brain for everything he’s trying to do and accomplish with his teammates.”
With another game scheduled for Sunday, it remains to be seen (or heard) if the Celtics will be implementing a similar mentality akin to Paul’s. Yet, with the plethora of vibrant personalities within the Celtics locker room, it’s not far-fetched to believe this lesson will have acted as a wake-up call for them.
Tip-off for Boston’s second scrimmage against the Phoenix Suns is at 1:30 pm ET.