MILWAUKEE – Inside the Boston Celtics locker room, there was an unmistakable calm among the players moments removed from a 116-92 thumping at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Players talked among themselves about what went wrong, about what they will do different in Game 4 on Sunday but more than anything else, they owned the loss.
There was no finger-pointing or second-guessing the head coaches’ player rotations or not-so-stealth putdowns of an opposing player who had been playing well – all things done by the Bucks thus far in this series.
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The post-game highlights were still in heavy rotation, but the Celtics had already moved on mentally to Sunday’s Game 4 matchup.
“They did what they had to do. It is what it is,” Marcus Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “Can’t dwell on it. We’ll see them on Sunday.”
As much as Boston has been a team that’s built upon a “Next Man Up” framework, an “on-to-the-next-game” mindset is also deeply woven into this team’s DNA.
That’s why win or lose, the Celtics don’t spend much time thinking or talking about what just happened.
And it is games like the one we saw on Friday where that approach is absolutely critical to them continuing along a successful path and not let rough nights such as Friday’s beatdown, derail them.
More than anything else, the Celtics have extracted elements beyond the X’s and O’s of Friday’s loss as their takeaways in helping improve their overall play for Sunday.
It’s easy to forget that Friday’s game was the first time this team had played a postseason road game together which any NBA veteran will tell you, is different than what you experience during the regular season.
Boston’s Al Horford believes having gone through that with this group for the first time on Friday, will benefit the Celtics in Game 4.
“We learned what the level of intensity is when you’re playing in the playoffs on the road,” Horford said. “At home, you feel good. You’re comfortable and confident. Even though we’ve been playing on the road all year, it’s different in the playoffs.
Horford added, “it’s a good learning experience for our group.”
And while there are sure to be adjustments made on Boston’s part, don’t expected them to stray too far away from who they have been all season.
“We’re super excited about Sunday,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “(Friday), we dropped the ball. We feel like we could have played a lot better. We can’t wait for Sunday, and we’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing all year.”