How 'cornerstone' Blake Griffin has helped boost Celtics' chemistry

Blake Griffin Marcus Smart

The Boston Celtics boast the NBA's best record entering the All-Star break, and morale is high.

The Celtics dispatched the Detroit Pistons 127-109 at TD Garden on Wednesday night to improve to 42-17 despite having their full starting five intact for just one of those 59 games. Boston has thrived despite a rash of injuries by getting contributions up and down the lineup, which is a good sign that the team is committed toward a common goal.

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Veterans Malcolm Brogdon and Blake Griffin confirmed as much after Wednesday's game, both reiterating that Boston has best team camaraderie they've experienced over their combined 21 seasons in the NBA.

"It's the best locker room I've been a part of, like, by far," Brogdon said. "From a winning standpoint and from just a character standpoint, I've been in some great locker rooms, but these guys know how to win, and we do it together every night. No one really gets in their feelings about anything. We have guys step up, different guys every night.

"I think it starts with your leaders, with JT (Jayson Tatum) and JB (Jaylen Brown): how they perform every night but then how they treat everybody. And I think everybody else follows their lead."


Tatum and Brown solidified themselves as Boston's leaders last season during the team's run to the NBA Finals, but Brogdon and Griffin have added a valuable veteran's perspective. Griffin in particular has embraced doing whatever it takes to win, whether that's taking a back seat to Robert Williams and Al Horford or playing nearly 29 minutes and taking Superman dives for loose balls, as he did Wednesday night to the delight of his teammates.

While Griffin has only played in 26 games this season, head coach Joe Mazzulla called the 33-year-old a "cornerstone" of the Celtics' locker room.

"I even told Mike Muscala when he first got here, 'Cherish this locker room, because it's one of the strongest and one of the most special ones you'll be in,'" Mazzulla said Wednesday night. "I think Blake’s a huge cornerstone of that, just because of the career he’s had and where he’s at now, and the humility he brings to just coming in every single day, whether it’s playing with the younger guys or whether it’s starting for us, his attitude and his focus on what’s most important doesn’t change.

"He has the utmost respect of everybody in the locker room, and him and Al and those guys are a cornerstone of that."

Boston's "core four" of Tatum, Brown, Marcus Smart and Robert Williams have developed strong chemistry over the past five-plus seasons, but veterans like Horford, Brogdon and Griffin have been great additions by providing the group with perspective and making Celtics players realize how good they have it.

"It’s one of the best locker rooms I’ve been around," Griffin added. "We had some really close teams in L.A. (with the Clippers), but this team is right there if not more (close). Everybody comes in with a purpose every day, everybody works really, really hard. Everybody genuinely cares and enjoys seeing another person succeed. We’ve managed to keep that throughout this season, throughout highs and lows."

The Celtics will endure more highs and lows down the stretch, but if they can maintain their current chemistry, that could help fuel another deep postseason run.