Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“I’m not doing cartwheels,” Stevens said. “[Celtics players] know I’m not going to do cartwheels … I just said, ‘Keep being a team and keep playing together.’ The other thing is that we need to keep building off the good things we are doing.”
And while Boston’s postgame locker room buzzed with energy as players made dinner plans for a rare night off in New York City (Keith Bogans and MarShon Brooks serving as the team’s Yelp, given the time they’ve spent in Brooklyn), there was also this notion that Boston couldn’t rest on this victory very long.
That, of course, emanates from Stevens.
“Never as good as you think you are, never as bad as you think you are, and you’re never far from either,” Stevens said. “It’s one of those days in a lot of ways. But, also, we played pretty well. Can we play like that every day? Probably not. But can we bring the same intensity level and be as much of a team as we were today? Hopefully.”
Never too high, never too low… that’s what Even Stevens is all about. We knew it from his reaction to Jeff Green’s game winner in Miami….
… this guy’s got ice running through his veins. Sure, there’s this photo that proves he can let some emotions out while coaching, but I think it’ll be a while before we see that kind of reaction from him in Boston.
What Stevens understands is that the NBA is a marathon run by professionals. Teams that make it to the finals play about a hundred basketball games over eight months. The men’s national champion plays 40 games over five months. Each win and loss in college is magnified, and not only because of the schedule, but because of the system of rankings.
There’s no “strength of schedule” to worry about in the NBA. The playoff brackets don’t differentiate between the wins in Miami or New York. So while we all went apeshit over Green’s shot, Stevens knew it was just a win early in the season. That’s what yesterday’s win was too.
And it’s not that Stevens is an un-emotional robot. While he was standing there stoically watching Green beat the Heat, I’m sure his brain was thinking “holy shit that was an awesome play.” But if he lets this team get too caught up in its success, it will only serve to hasten the return of bad habits and the team’s next failure.
We saw it at halftime of the Nuggets game. It doesn’t take much for this team to be really bad. Their success is the result of all players understanding their roles and executing them to their fullest. There is a razor-thin margin for error. A team like Indiana, Miami, or Oklahoma City can come out flat or take teams lightly and, often, still have a chance to win because of the type of talent they have. A team like the Celtics, though, can’t turn it off for a second. If they come out too high on themselves, they can give up a 10-0 run in a blink.
Maybe back in his hotel room, he can call his wife and giggle about beating the Knicks by 40. Maybe in his car driving home from the airport, he can pop on some Lil Wayne and scream along with the lyrics “we the hardest team… forever winning bitch… we on our Charlie Sheen” (admit it, you’d pay to see this image now that it’s in your head). But he can’t do it in front of the guys. He can’t do it when they win by 40, and he can’t do it if they lose by 40.
He’s got to be Even Stevens. Never too high on days like yesterday, never too low when they struggle. He’s the rudder that will steer this team, and you can already see the effect he’s having.
Page 2: Gerald Wallace thinks the C’s are almost flawless
“It’s fun to watch because you’re seeing a team grow up right before your eyes and continue to get better game after game,” Gerald Wallace, who was hitting his team over the head with tough love not that long ago, said. “We got off to a slow start. I think everybody was trying to figure out their roles and what they’re supposed to do. We’re 22 games into the season now; guys know what it takes for us to win and what we’ve got to do as a team. We’re executing to a T. It’s almost perfect. It’s almost like flawless basketball watching us play.”
Once upon a time, Gerald Wallace was becoming a malcontent who was unhappy with his new bench role and coach. He had selfish, lazy teammates, and it looked like he was ready to camp out in Danny Ainge’s office to try to force some kind of trade.
But the team that started 4-10 after a six-game losing streak has now gone 6-2 over its last 8 game and is undefeated in the month of December… and Wallace has gone from curmudgeon to “guy who hates to lose.” Instead of everything pissing him off, he’s just a happy-go-lucky guy who loves everyone and is enjoying coming off the bench. Winning has a big effect on his attitude.
[warning, grab your umbrellas, I'm about to piss on the parade a little]
Of course, some of the things that are leading to the wins right now are just not sustainable. The Celtics are probably not going to continue shooting 45% from 3 like they have in the last three games. Jordan Crawford probably won’t continue shooting 61% from the field (52% from 3) for THAT much longer. So it will be interesting to see how flawless the team looks when the shooting goes away.
But still, I like it when Wallace is happy. When he’s happy, it means things are going well for the team.
Ok, put your umbrellas away. I’m done.
Related links: ESPN Boston: Fast start fueling Celtics
I wish I knew what made Rondo laugh this hard.
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston: Steez aims to please | Herald: Manhattan Mauling | Crawford deep-sixes negative NY Memories | Globe: Celtics getting off to better starts | CSNNE: Celtics’ hot starts becoming the norm | Mass Live: Bass happy to exploit mismatches, Wallace doesn’t read scouting reports