BOSTON – Maybe a 1-2 start, saddled by lackadaisical defense, isn’t as bad for the Boston Celtics as many seem to believe.
Maybe, in the end, it’ll be blessing.
That’s what Brad Stevens insinuated Thursday night, ahead of the team’s Fan Fest at TD Garden.
“Being uncomfortable is a good thing,” he said with a grin. “There’s nothing wrong with that. Competition is hard.”
Boston, which is stacked with talent and presumed to be the top team in the East, has learned that quickly.
The Celtics are 1-2 in the preseason and have given up an average of 106.0 points per game. Those results prompted Stevens to say Tuesday night that his team’s defense looked like “a sieve,” and to add that he “couldn’t be more unimpressed after our first three exhibition games.”
If Stevens was that upset, it’s nearly a guarantee that the players were in a similar state of mind. All of them had an off day on Wednesday to let it marinate, and that prompted them all to return to the practice court Thursday afternoon with a heightened level of enthusiasm and concentration.
“The first couple of days, we just were hesitant with the moves and the cuts that we were making on the floor,” said Al Horford, who noted that the team has still only been together for a total of nine days. “For example, today at practice, it was great. The energy was great, the ball movement (was great), guys were getting comfortable with the reads, what to expect, what to do. So today it looked like we finally started to get it.”
Marcus Smart concurred.
“Everybody was locked in today,” he said. “Everybody was ready to go. It felt good to play like that, the way we can play.”
Sure, everyone would have loved for such to have been the case from Day 1, but not everything in life comes easy. Sometimes it takes work. Sometimes it takes overcoming challenges. Sometimes it takes, as Stevens suggested, feeling uncomfortable.
All of those things can lead to the change in mindset the C’s are now experiencing.
“It builds your character,” Smart said of feeling a bit uncomfortable as a team. “It builds you as a player, as an individual, having that adversity, it being tough. You have to figure it out.”
The Celtics are in the process of doing so. Just remember, it is a process, and sometimes, it’s a good thing to feel a little bit uncomfortable as it all unfolds.