It seems whenever there has been a setback for the Celtics, it ultimately winds up being a set-up for them to prove yet again how they rise above adversity and disappointment to flourish.
In Brad Stevens’ two-plus seasons as the Celtics coach, there may not be a better example of that than what we have seen in the past 48 or so hours.
From the heartbreak of a 116-109 loss at Portland that many saw was a must-win type game on this trip, to the euphoric emotions that spilled on to the Oracle Arena floor Friday night (or Saturday morning back East) following their thrilling 109-106 win to at least slow down (even temporarily) Golden State’s march towards basketball immortality.
"That was one of the funnest games I’ve been a part of,” Isaiah Thomas said afterward. “Just because every time they hit us with something, we hit them right back.”
The win ended Golden State’s NBA-record 54 game winning streak at home. But in many ways, he could have been talking about the ups and downs of this season as the Celtics continue to try and claw their way towards the No. 3 seed in the East.
Indeed, the resiliency shown by the Celtics on Friday night was symbolic of their ability to find a path towards success when there’s seemingly one roadblock after another to potentially impede their progress.
As much as Stevens has shown Teflon-strong confidence in his team this season, there was really no way of knowing how they would respond Friday night after such a gut-wrenching loss the previous game at Portland.
Boston exuding some serious mental toughness was among the many takeaways for Stevens.
“The idea that we can bounce back from a night like [Thursday] night where we expended a considerable amount of energy and came up short,” Stevens said. “Flew here, got in late and came to compete again.”
And it is Stevens’ reference to competing that more than anything else, is at the essence of what the Celtics (44-32) have been about all season.
They have had their share of stinkers, for sure.
But more often than not, they play a brand of basketball that at the end of the day at the very least gives them a chance to compete.
And that’s why as much as they’re jockeying for the best playoff position possible (only a half-game separates teams currently slotted 3-6), it doesn’t really matter which of those teams they’ll open with or whether the series starts at home.
The Celtics will come to compete and when you least expect it, create their own path towards success regardless of who stands in their way.