“That looked like the team I recognize,” said Jaylen Brown.
Brown was pumped up after the Boston Celtics’ win over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night. An up-and-down road trip culminated with a contest against one of the best teams in the West, and the Celtics delivered.
“We came out, we played [a full] 48 minutes, [and] we didn’t take our foot off the gas. We took care of business. Ended the road trip well. [Now, we have to] get back home and take care of business again.”
Sacramento kept things close in the first quarter. They came out swinging, with both teams trading baskets back and forth. But Boston was ready to rumble by the time the second quarter rolled around.
They absolutely dominated the Kings after the first frame, outsourcing them 102-77 in the final three periods of the game. With Robert Williams back in the lineup and the team at (near) full strength, they were able to shut down the best offense in the league for multiple stretches throughout the game.
“I think we came out with purpose,” said Jayson Tatum. “Obviously, a disappointing loss last game. It’s all about how you respond. We played like how we know we’re supposed to play tonight. A lot of it had to do with us responding from a loss and having our full team, obviously, besides Payton. But having Rob back makes a world of difference.”
The Celtics had been playing with fire for the last few weeks after going up early in games. Losses to the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, and Cleveland Cavaliers all came after Boston was up by double digits, and during their current road trip, they’ve fumbled on multiple occasions.
But on Monday, they stayed locked in. Even when they were getting out-run in the first quarter, their hustle and effort never wavered. It was the perfect way to respond after a couple of disappointing road losses during their last few games.
“Super important,” Brown said of the win. “We dropped a couple of games on this trip that we probably shouldn’t have. The Sacramento Kings have been playing good basketball, so we wanted to come here and make a little bit of a statement.”
With a big win under their belt, the Celtics will now head back home for a quick two-game homestand and some much needed rest. The regular season is wrapping up, and their win over Sacramento signaled their ability to get back on track amid some post-All-Star break woes.
That being said, context is always important no matter where the Celtics are at in the season.
“Yeah, I mean, if it wasn’t nine games before the regular season was over, and if we weren’t in first place the entire year and this road trip was at the beginning of the year, and we were 4-2, everybody would be happy. We have to maintain a level of perspective,” said head coach Joe Mazzulla.
Mazzulla has stressed the importance of perspective all season. Whether the Celtics are winning or losing, he’s been level-headed, refusing to get too high or too low. It’s a trait that many of Boston’s players have also taken on.
However, with just nine games remaining until the postseason, playing the right way and maintaining the effort levels they showed in their win over Sacramento has never been more important.
“Understand that this was a hard trip. There were moments where we played really, really good basketball, and there were moments that we didn’t. I think we learned from that, and tonight we were able to put a full 48 minutes together. So, that’s just something that we have to continue.”