BOSTON -- Following their 108-100 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night, the Celtics didn't want to get too far ahead of themselves. It was a solid win -- perhaps the best of the season -- but they were quick to note that not building off of it moving forward would diminish its significance. A loss to the Magic on Sunday, for example, would take some of the shine off of a quality win.
"We've got to do it continuously," said Rajon Rondo. "We can't have a win like this and show up in Orlando and give a dud. So, our main focus is trying to continue to build off of this win, stay with the fundamentals and try to get a win in Orlando."
Part of that building process -- and the consistency that the C's hope will come with it -- centers on the proper execution of roles. Each player has one, some being more distinct than others. But that was one of Boston's best weapons against the Thunder, having the right guys contribute in the right manner.
The players credit head coach Doc Rivers, who apparently stressed the importance of roles during the team's Friday morning shootaround. Rivers didn't discuss the meeting after the game -- the players alluded to it after his press conference was already over -- but he apparently lined up his entire team and, man-by-man, went down the line and reasserted to everybody what their respective roles are. It was a sequence that really resonated with the players and it showed on the court Friday night.
"Each guy is finding their role," said Rondo. "Doc had a speech today about guys' roles and I think tonight showed what guys took from it. A lot of guys responded well from it. You can go another way, but everyone in this locker room took it very well."
Kevin Garnett was quick to echo Rondo's thoughts.
"Doc kind of set us aside as a group today and kind of broke us down as a team and what he was expecting from each individual, and I thought it was very helpful," he said. "It kind of clarified the air on guys' responsibilities, roles, etcetera. And we came out and played like it. There wasn't any hesitation on anything, guys played with confidence, played together, and there's always that question mark of consistency, so we have to see if we can ride this momentum for a while.
"Doc sitting us down, we didn't really do a lot at walkthrough today, very, very simple, but letting each guy know what he expects out of him, their role on this team and how consistent you have to be with that role. I thought it carried over to guys understanding tonight, playing with energy, having that clarity to what coach wants from you, and I thought it totally reflected in some defensive energy."
Orlando might be the right kind of test for the Celtics Sunday evening. Boston hasn't exactly wowed in its victories over lesser opponents this season, and the kind of effort displayed on Sunday could say more about this team than Friday's victory did. Can Boston harness the effort it took to knock off one of the Western Conference elite and post a convincing win over a team of a lower caliber?
Players adhering to their roles could play the most significant factor.
"Doc made that a point [Friday] at shootaround," said Jason Terry. "He went to a man, down the line. He reiterated our roles, what he expected out of us on a nightly basis, and tonight you've seen it. Everyone came in tonight and contributed, from the last man on the bench to the first, and that's what we need. Going forward, we need that consistently every night."