“They’ve looked like [players that] legitimately don’t enjoy each other’s success, and it’s been like that for years,” an Eastern Conference executive said.
In last night’s win over the Portland Trail Blazers, Payton Pritchard scored 16 points in the fourth quarter while playing in his home state. He nailed four three-pointers and shot 5-9 from the field. This is what the Celtics bench looked like throughout his entire scoring surge:
The celebration that ensued after the latter of the two threes shown above earned Boston’s bench a technical foul and a postgame apology from head coach Ime Udoka to Chauncey Billups for his team’s behavior. It was pure bliss on the sideline for the Celtics. Everyone seemed ecstatic for Pritchard, who has had a slow start to the year. Now, does that look like a team that doesn’t enjoy each other’s success?
This isn’t the first instance of something like this, either. The Celtics have been lifting each other up all season long. Whether it’s the scream of Grant Williams from the bench or the entire team embracing Robert Williams after a game-saving block, this team has rooted for each other up time and time again.
Boston’s bench is constantly on their feet in the fourth quarters of games. Even looking back at their win over the Los Angeles Lakers, the bench was electric. The camera didn’t catch it, but when Enes Freedom nailed a three-pointer at the top of the key, the sideline went ballistic.
The Celtics’ love for each other extends well beyond the court, too. Everyone is constantly looking to support each other, and each and every player looks genuinely happy to be representing the green and white. Take a look at this video of the team on the night that Freedom earned his U.S. citizenship and officially changed his name:
Freedom would go on to get a massive ovation from the TD Garden crowd that night.
Even looking past that, the team has audibly supported one another in pressers. A little over a week ago, on a night where Dennis Schroder was out, Josh Richardson wore a headband - a look that Schroder always rocks. As small of a gesture as it was, there’s no doubting that the love is there:
“I wore my headband for him tonight. Had to hold it down for my dog.”
A bunch of players even decided to sport the headband look in Boston’s win over Portland. Jayson Tatum said it was his idea after the game, explaining that it was “just something to have some fun. It’s a long season. You want to have some fun during it.”
Everyone from the bottom of the bench to the top of the food chain has supported one another this season. Saying that this team doesn’t care about each other is blatantly ignoring everything they have displayed this year. And for those questioning the camaraderie of Tatum and Jaylen Brown, this quote of Tatum uplifting Brown a few days ago should put to rest any rumors of the two disliking each other:
“I’m gonna be there for him like he’s been there for me. When we get down sometimes, we’re just there for each other. I tell him he’s gonna be the best version of Jaylen Brown. And he’s gonna be.”
The Celtics struggled with finding an identity last season, and while the clear argument is that their identity is on the defensive end this year, it goes way past that. This team has built a bond that pours out onto the court, and it translates to hustle play after hustle play. The C’s care about each other, and more importantly, they play better because of it.