BOSTON – When it comes to NBA teams finding an identity, it’s a process that often takes months to come to fruition.
Still, much like most of what Celtics coach Brad Stevens has accomplished in Boston, that too seems to be ahead of schedule.
- Blakely: Finding a way to win is in this team's DNA
- Stevens: "It's fun to get stops to get a win"
- Horford "playing young again"
We’re not even a full month into the season and it’s clear as day what this team’s identity is. It can be summed up in just five words: Get it done. No excuses.
You hear teams echo a similar sentiment but seldom do you see it play out as often as it has with this Celtics team that's riding a league-best 12-game winning streak coming into Tuesday’s game in Brooklyn.
To put their run in perspective, no team in the NBA this season has been able to string more than six consecutive wins together.
Now, if Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving and Al Horford were around for every game, the fast start wouldn’t be totally shocking.
But here’s the thing.
Boston’s Big Three?
They have played less than five minutes together...ALL SEASON!
Yet, here are the Celtics with the best record in the NBA, doing so without their best players for the bulk of the season thus far.
Having that kind of success involves more than just knowing the game plan.
You have to know you; know your teammates and most important, know what it takes for you all to be successful and win.
For many, that becomes a season-long endeavor.
For the Celtics, they got it done in less than a month.
Having an identity not only benefits the Celtics in terms of preparing for opponents and how they play in general, but it also breeds a mindset that provides a blanket of confidence in the stormy moments of in games.
Look back at Sunday’s 95-94 win over Toronto.
Boston spent most of that game playing from behind.
And once they gained the lead and had it in the final minute of play, they withstood a couple of setbacks that could have potentially crushed a meeker-minded team.
Leading 95-92, an Al Horford turnover with 58.9 seconds to play led to a pair of free throws for O.G. Anunoby to make it a one-point game with 56 seconds to play.
Jayson Tatum secured a rebound with 13.4 seconds to play, seemingly securing the win only for Tatum to be called for an offensive foul when his elbow appeared to have grazed the face of Toronto’s Fred VanVleet.
Toronto had one more chance to score, but DeMar DeRozan’s contested jumper against Jaylen Brown grazed the front of the rim. They had one more shot to win after that as the ball fell into the hands of Serge Ibaka, but he could not control it cleanly and threw up an off-balance shot at the rim that rolled out and was rebounded by Marcus Smart.
It was a frantic scene in the closing seconds, but the Celtics were a demure bunch, seemingly unfazed by the moment, unapologetic about having Teflon-tough faith that they will find a way to win regardless of who the opponent is or who they have available to play.
“It was a good game, but we felt we were going to win all along,” Boston’s Daniel Theis told NBC Sports Boston. “We believe in each other; that we can beat anybody if we play our game.”
That being said, Theis is no different than most Celtic fans.
“I can’t wait until we have everybody healthy to play,” he said. “We’re good now. If we have everybody...we’re really, really good.”
But until then, they will do what all really good teams do and that’s lean on who they have and embrace their identity.
Get it done. No excuses.