Winning certainly can create a happy, vibrant locker room, and after Friday's victory in New Orleans, the positive vibes were flowing from the Celts' camp. Coach Brad Stevens deserves a lot of praise for the upbeat environment:
Jae on C's confidence: "It's thru the roof from w/in. We believe in ourselves. We believe in the approach that the coaches are taking w/ us"
Crowder, who had another strong game against New Orleans, scoring 11 points, grabbing nine rebounds, and adding four steals, has flourished under Stevens. Before the third-year forward arrived from Dallas, he was averaging just 3.6 ppg and 1.2 rpg in 10.6 minutes per game for the Mavs. With Boston, Crowder has logged more minutes (22.0), doubled his scoring (8.5) and rebounding (4.1) totals, and has given the team a needed boost of energy off the bench (although he started Friday).
Sure, more minutes mean more production, but Stevens is getting the best out of a player who was regarded as a throw-in, as part of the Rajon Rondo trade.
Stevens, from day one, has preached playing team basketball, and the players are listening. In the last 15 games, the Celts, who are 9-6 in that span, are averaging 23.7 dimes a game, good for third in the league. On Friday, the green dished out 19 assists, including this beautiful play where the C's unselfishness was front and center:
Notice the bench, everyone is standing and cheering, another sign that these guys really enjoy playing under Stevens. Even assistant coach Walter McCarty , who is jumping up from bis seat, is getting into the act. McCarty hasn't moved like that since the early 2000's
Isaiah Thomas, who has looked like an all-star since joining the C's, is clearly buying in to the team approach that the coach demands:
Isaiah Thomas: "This is like a college team. We don't just play with each other, we play for each other. It's a big difference, man."
Tell me that isn't someone you want to play for. With 22 games remaining, and every win so crucial during the chase for the playoffs, having a squad who all believe in each other can only help.
The Celts play 12 of their remaining games against teams with losing records, so the wins are there for the taking. You know for sure that Stevens will have his guys ready to play. Stevens' crew fights hard every night and rarely gets blown out of, okay, let's disregard that Cleveland game and end this on a positive note.