The Boston Celtics had the perfect response to their ugly loss against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night, absolutely throttling the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum on Thursday.
Now, they have to do it again.
Boston will be tasked with playing the second leg of a back-to-back less than 24 hours after handing Milwaukee its worst loss of the season. The Celtics will obviously be riding high after such a dominant victory, but their opponent, the Utah Jazz, have caused trouble during the season series as they won the previous matchup two weeks ago.
“I trust our team’s maturity and character to where we’ll compete at a high level (Friday),” Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla said postgame, per NBC Sports Boston. “There’s no guarantees. I want them to be happy we won, and I want them to understand why we won and I want them to feel that.
“At the same time, regardless of tonight’s result we had to play tomorrow. I kind of said that before the game, and I think that’s even more important now.”
The players who actually take the court on Friday might just look different than the ones that defeated the Bucks.
Al Horford and Robert Williams III practically never play on the second night of a back-to-back, while Jayson Tatum and/or Jaylen Brown are in line for a night off. Malcolm Brogdon’s long-running achilles injury has also kept him sidelined at different points this season. That doesn’t change the message, though.
“The most important thing — I said it after the Washington game, the most important thing is how we respond tomorrow,” Mazzulla said. “We responded well to a loss, now it’s just as important that you respond well to winning as you do losing. I think that’s important.”
That much isn’t lost on the Celtics, who are carrying the message down the regular season stretch.
“We gotta come out with the same energy tomorrow,” Jayson Tatum said postgame, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic. “We can’t let it waver from opponent to opponent. That will determine how far we can go in the playoffs.”