Should the Boston Celtics finally turn their season around, it might be a cross-country flight that proves to be the turning point.
The lifeless, ice-cold Celtics pulled off a stunner Tuesday night, beating the Golden State Warriors 128-95 at Oracle Arena. Gordon Hayward scored 30 points, Terry Rozier tried to fight DeMarcus Cousins, Brad Wanamaker scored — it was wild.
So, what the hell happened to these guys?
It’s no secret Celtics players have been at each other’s throats for much of their disappointing season. They’re more than willing to tell you as much after a tough loss — if you catch them in a talkative mood, that is. But road trips often help divided teams come together in difficult times, and Boston’s four-game West Coast swing might be just what the doctor ordered.
“That long plane ride helped us out,” Kyrie Irving said, via ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, after dropping 19 points and dishing out 11 assists in what was the marquee win of the season. “I’ll just say that. That long plane ride helped us out.
“We needed it. It was just we were going to get to a point where we were just going to get tired of fighting each other, fighting the outside world. And it doesn’t even really matter. So, we just wanted to come out here and just play basketball. This is our sanctuary. And we have to do everything to protect it. We can’t let anybody infiltrate it.”
Then, Irving did what he often does: Said a bunch of stuff.
“Well, I mean, it gets a little overwhelming, like I said, but this is just the business I’m in,” he said. “The business part of it is what makes it terrible for me, honestly, dealing with all this s—. I’m going to be honest with you guys. The basketball part, I have to keep that fun. That’s where I’m great, that’s where I love to play and be around my teammates, that’s what makes me happy.
“The business part of it is going to be the business. Personal side of being out here with my teammates is the only thing that should matter. It wasn’t really a change of perspective; it was letting the guard down completely and just not thinking I’m at odds with everybody. It’s not a competition in this locker room; it’s a competition out there. That’s the most important thing.”
Added Irving: “Talking with Brad was very helpful, talking with Danny was very helpful, and just expressing myself rather than keeping it all in. That made it very easy to just go out and just have fun playing basketball.”
It remains to be seen whether Tuesday’s win over Golden State, or the long flight that precluded it, serve as springboards for Boston to reach its full potential in time for the playoffs. It’s still hard to imagine this season ending on a positive note, given just how bad things have been thus far.
But maybe six hours inside a tin can in the sky really was what this team needed. We’ll find out soon enough.