BOSTON — When the Celtics’ starting lineups were announced prior to Monday’s game, the TD Garden crowd roared a little bit louder than usual for Jeff Green. Eight games into his first season as the go-to guy in Boston, Green finally seemed to be in his element as “the man.”
If the fans were thrilled to relive Green’s game-winning shot on the video screen, though, Green was content to leave it in Miami. Almost as soon as the ball went through the hoop at AmericanAirlines Arena, Green and the Celtics turned their attention to Monday’s opponent. It was an even-keeled approach that has served them well during the last week, and it enabled them to stretch their win streak to four games with a 120-105 win over the Magic.
“We knew that game was over with,” Green said. “Everybody was on a high after the Miami game, but we knew that it was time to move on and we had another game [Monday]. I think everybody came in focused and ready to play.”
Green, who scored 16 points as one of seven Celtics players in double figures, was not alone in being unimpressed about his big shot two days later. Taking on the personality of their coach, the Celtics never got too glum during their 0-4 start and have not been overly ebullient during this 4-0 run. They say they only focus on the next game, regardless of whether the last one was a win or a loss.
“I haven’t seen, like, these unbelievable celebrations in the locker room or anything else,” coach Brad Stevens said. “They’re just pretty matter-of-fact, move on to what’s next, and the better teams that I’ve coached have been that way.”
Less than two weeks into the regular season, the Celtics’ demeanor suggests they won’t fall victim to mental exhaustion. Physical exhaustion, which comes after a hard-fought game, can be fairly easy to recover from after a day or less of rest. Mental exhaustion, which can be caused by reacting to every win or loss like it’s the last thing in the world, can be much more difficult to come back from — particularly for a team that is not going to have many 15-point wins like Monday’s.
“It’s the beginning of the season,” Green said. “In order for us to keep improving, we need to win games and — once we win games — continue to put it in the past and move forward.”
Consider the shot in Miami already forgotten by Green. Still, he’ll gladly take the applause.