All-Star forward Jayson Tatum believes the Boston Celtics have a "realistic" chance of winning the NBA title inside the Disney bubble and isn’t surprised by how bullish those within the organization have been about their chances to contend.
"I think that's the mentality you should have,” Tatum said during a Zoom conference with reporters after Boston’s workout on Saturday morning. "I've never been on a team in my life -- whether it was high school or college or since I have been on the Celtics -- where I didn't think we should settle for like third place.
"I always thought, that's why we played, to be the last team standing, so I think automatically we have that mindset, and we have a realistic chance. We have the talent, the experience, the depth, and we compete with the best of them. We scrap, we play defense, and our mindset is to never give up. We have a lot of guys who have been through a lot with each other, been through a lot of battles over the last couple years, so we hold each other accountable, trust each other, and we're going to fight 'til there's zero on the clock.”
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The Celtics enter the restart sitting third in the Eastern Conference but have a chance to chase Toronto for the No. 2 spot during the seeding games. Enes Kanter said the team hasn’t talked much about seeding, putting an emphasis on simply being healthy when the games matter most.
But, like Tatum, he’s bullish on Boston’s chances.
"I feel like we have enough talent to beat every team on every floor,” said Kanter. "The only thing I would care about is if my guys are healthy or not. Right now, everybody is healthy, everybody is going out, just trying to get in the best shape. I feel like, man, Celtics can beat every team on every floor, so we are not worrying about who we are going to face, or who are we not going to face.
"We’re just going out there and just show the world because, beginning of the season, man, there was so many haters out there. There was so many doubters out there that were saying that the Celtics were not going to be the best. Celtics are not going to do it this year. I feel like we’ve proved them wrong already but our job is not done yet. We just need to go out there and finish the job and show the whole world we got what we need.”
After their initial quarantine in their Disney hotel, the Celtics held practice sessions on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. Players said it delivered a little bit of normalcy in a unique situation.
"Just being able to practice with all the guys, get after it,” said Tatum. "It’s been so long since we got to be in the gym all together. So it’s been fun. We’re all enjoying it, getting back into the rhythm. So we’re having a lot of fun.”
Tatum, who will be key to Boston’s success inside the bubble, said he focused on his body while the season was paused. Asked if had added muscle mass to his frame, Tatum got a bit coy.
“I did. But it’s not for public knowledge,” said Tatum. "I can't tell everybody my secrets.”