The Celtics have a new mantra, and it’s been posted on a sign in their locker room.
“Individuals win games, teams win titles.”
If Boston expects to win a title, they must come together, right now on this hallowed ground. Tell ‘em, Denzel.
“You listen, and you take a lesson from the dead. If we don’t come together right now on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed, just like they were. I don’t care if you like each other or not, but you will respect each other. And maybe… I don’t know, maybe we’ll learn to play this game like men.”
Like Denzel’s Titans playing high school football, Boston hasn’t been playing basketball like men. Players get beat defensively, and there’s no help. A shot goes up, no box-out. An open player in the corner? No extra pass.
Real men help their teammates. Real men do whatever it takes to win. Real men dive on the floor after loose balls, take charges, and swing the basketball with a purpose. Real men play a lot like the 2008 Boston Celtics. Today’s C’s should take lessons from that team, lessons from the dead.
If the Celtics are to start coming together and winning games, there’s no better time than today. The New Jersey Nets come into town, starting a stretch of eight exceedingly winnable games against teams spanning in win-loss record from the 5-52 Nets to the 29-28 Milwaukee Bucks. CSNNE’s Rich Levine had a great line in his pregame briefing: “The Celtics need a win. The Nets love to lose. This afternoon at the TD Garden, we’ll see if these two squads can’t help each other out.” For the most part, the C’s next eight opponents love to lose, or at least seem to be used to it by now. The Celtics could potentially string together a few wins, build some confidence, and regain the lost unity that has befuddled Doc Rivers all season long. A win streak now won’t mean too much but, if Boston can take the required steps to improvement, this weak stretch of schedule might make all the difference in the world.
Rivers isn’t waiting for the effects of a cupcake schedule to help whip the C’s into shape; he’s looking for some way – any way — to remind his team of the effort they are capable of giving. Rivers has been searching for ways to motivate his team all year, and the locker room’s new sign isn’t the only way he switched things up after the loss to the Cavs. When Doc normally would have shown game tape, he showed the new Larry Bird-Magic Johnson documentary instead. I’m not sure whether it was to show Boston two players who played the game the right way – who played unselfish team basketball every single time they stepped on the court — or whether it was only to avoid watching yet another second-half meltdown. Really, though, what could Boston have learned from watching the game tape? Nothing they haven’t seen before, I’m sure. All the same blunders they’ve made, night in and night out against the best teams. Doc understood his players didn’t want to see that crap, didn’t need to see that crap. On to the next one.
A good showing today against the New Jersey Nets won’t prove anything about Boston’s play. Win by 30, and it’s expected. Lose, or even win a close game, and boos will likely rain down from the Boston Garden. But there has to be somewhere to start. Climbing back from the depths of mediocrity to rejoin the ranks of contenders has to start somewhere.
So why not today, right now on this hallowed ground?