In NBA circles there seems to be a mystical aura surrounding the so called players-only team meeting. These meetings are usually held when a team is in disarray and the proverbial sky is falling after a series of bad losses. Last year, the Cleveland Cavaliers held a series of players-only meetings after the firing of head coach David Blatt that seemed to rejuvenate their team's chemistry and culminated in a world championship.
Last week, after consecutive blowout losses to the Washington Wizards and Denver Nuggets the Celtics held a players-only meeting to try to get everyone on the same page. Point guard Marcus Smart said of the meeting, via Jay King of Mass Live:
"We talked about how losing by 30 or 20 isn't the way the Celtics play," Smart said Wednesday night after a 90-83 win against the Dallas Mavericks. "We had to come back and look at ourselves in the mirror. Everyone said what they thought was going on and we had to be true to ourselves."
Now, let's be honest, the Celtics haven't exactly played against the best of the best in NBA over the last four games. Boston went against an essentially Carmelo-less Knicks team after he got ejected in the second quarter, beat a Pacers team without Paul George, they lost to a one-win Pelicans squad and got an ugly win against the lowly Mavericks last night.
But still, wins are wins and losses are, well, losses. Over the four-game stretch, the C's have posted the second best defensive rating in the NBA, highlighted by holding the Mavs to 83 points, a season low for any Celtics opponent. This is undoubtedly a major improvement over the 77 points they allowed in the first half against the Nuggets. Avery Bradley said of the defensive effort:
"Tonight I feel like was one of our best defensive games," Bradley said. "We had our lapses sometimes, but for the most part we were talking and helping. That's good for our team."
Keep in mind that the Celtics have posted their 6-5 record while missing some combination of Jae Crowder, Al Horford and Kelly Olynyk all season. Of course, everyone expected them to be much better at this point but without those three players things have been tough.
Hopefully that players-only team meeting left a lasting impression and the C's can continue their winning ways. Their next test certainly won't be an easy one when they face the Golden State Warriors in Boston. If last years two matchups were any indication, we're in for a great game.
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