At this point last season, the Boston Celtics were 13-13 on the year. The team that eventually made the NBA Finals didn’t flip the script until the end of January, and the early stages of the season were spent playing isolation basketball and speculating about potential trade ideas.
This year, the Celtics have already won 21 games (a mark they didn’t hit until January 10 last year) and are the best team in basketball by a fair margin. And because of their success, they’re able to have some fun with the game that’s supposed to be fun in the first place.
Instead of team meetings and calling each other out in the media for their on-court play, they’re calling each other out for what celebrations they’re using. At least, that’s what Jayson Tatum did to Grant Williams after Boston’s win over the Phoenix Suns.
“He was too excited, too hyped. He was jumping. I was like, ‘Grant, it’s still the second quarter.’ So, I pulled him aside and said, ‘you can do it, but I’m cool when I do it. I look cool. You didn’t look cool. You looked like a kid.’”
Williams broke out Tatum’s signature three-point celebration in the second quarter because, at that point, the Celtics had already gone up by nearly 20 points, and the lead would only grow from there. By the fourth quarter, the Celtics had inched toward a 50-point lead and eventually won the game by 27 points.
Heading into the game, most expected a tightly contested matchup. Boston was missing Al Horford, Blake Griffin was starting his second game in three nights, and the Suns were the best team in the Western Conference with Chris Paul coming back after missing a month. But every question anyone had was answered by the Celtics.
Tatum and Jaylen Brown both dropped 25 points in the win, and after the game, Marcus Smart was quick to let the people know about Boston’s two superstars.
“Telling you, two pistols on the side, Jaylen and Jayson. I’m telling you, quick draw, baby. Bow bow.”
“Two pistols on the side, Jaylen and Jayson. Quick draw, baby – POW POW!”— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) December 8, 2022
– A Marcus Smart masterpiece
Smart and Brown were caught dancing by the cameras after the game as the Celtics dominated the Suns from start to finish. Their big-time performance on the court allowed them to have a bit more fun off of it.
And that’s the beauty of the way the Celtics are playing this season. They have the best offense in the NBA, their defense is back in the top-10, and because of their success, they can enjoy the game that they grew up playing. It’s a feeling that they weren’t able to accept until roughly March last year.
However, just because they are having fun doesn’t mean they aren’t laser-focused on the task at hand. Tatum said as much after the beatdown in Phoenix.
“I wouldn’t say we’re playing angry, we’re having a lot of fun, but the goal is still the same - to get back to the Finals and get over that hump. So, while we’re having fun and happy the way we’re playing, nobody in that locker room is celebrating or satisfied. None of this means anything if we don’t hang a banner.”