The Boston Celtics finally get to play basketball against an NBA opponent tomorrow, hosting the New York Knicks in their first game since Saturday night. It’s a chance at revenge for the Celtics, who feel that their chemistry and focus is in a much different place.
“I think that our identity is definitely forming better than when we were playing against the Knicks that day just in terms of our energy, our focus, our lineup as well,” Kyrie Irving said after practice. “It’s definitely a game that I definitely remember, so as a competitor, definitely I can’t wait to play.”
They’re coming into this game after four days off, an unusual stretch at this point in the season. What it’s given Boston is a chance to get some good, tough practices to try to fix some of what’s been broken this season.
“I don’t think we have necessarily found answers as much as we made a few strides,” Brad Stevens told reporters today. “We have to put together a consistent stretch and I think everybody is dedicated to that. We realize the challenge is tough tomorrow.”
The Celtics will have an added weapon as Jaylen Brown returns from his lower back injury. Stevens said Brown made it through both practices and an individual workout on Monday without any complications. Brown, who ended practice with some conditioning drills as the media entered the facility, is just happy to be on the court again.
“It’s good to be back out there with your teammates and just be playing basketball,” Jaylen Brown said after practice. “At the end of the day I love this game so just being out there in the mix is a blessing.”
Stevens says the team is set on what it will do with its lineups tomorrow, but wouldn’t reveal any specifics until before the game. Brown, though, expects to come off the bench.
“I’m expecting it to keep going how it’s been going,” he said. “Smart and Morris have been playing extremely well, the team has looked totally different at the initial start of the game, so that’s what I would expect.”
Brown seems to be at ease with a return to the bench. Both he and Stevens made it a point to de-emphasize the importance of starting games and instead focus on making a positive impact.”
“I think people make it a bigger deal than it really is,” said Brown. “At the end of the day it’s basketball. Hayward came off the bench and had 30 points and that’s a mindset, that’s a choice.”
For Brown, it’s a matter of focusing on his own strengths and letting things work themselves out on the floor.
“I’m not best player but I play with passion, I play with heart, I play with fire, I play with enthusiasm,” He said. “Everybody makes mistakes, I make mistakes but I think what makes me, the reason why I’ve had success the past two years, is because I continue to bring that energy.”
We discuss Brown’s role on the latest Locked On Celtics podcast. Have a listen, and please use the subscribe button on the embedded player to get our podcast directly to your device every Monday through Friday throughout the season.