BOSTON -- The Celtics were competitive through each of their first four games this season and lost them all. Boston remained competitive over its next four games, and won each time. With a 4-4 record through two weeks of the regular season, first-year coach Brad Stevens was asked if anything had changed.
“Same guys," he said. "And I don’t think, actually, we were that far in a couple of those games that we [lost]. Obviously, the Milwaukee game we really played well for most of the game. The way that I always say it when we walked back into the locker room, we looked like a basketball team. There have been other games, specifically in the preseason, where we didn’t look like a basketball team. But how far we’ve come since October 1st, we’ve made good strides, we’ve made the right strides. But we have a long way to go and there’s a lot of things to improve."
Even after a thorough offensive effort as his Celtics took down the Magic 120-105 on Monday, Stevens pledged to get right back to work as Boston navigates a game-heavy November. Stevens stressed that more improvements are needed to maintain this success.
"[Stevens' players] haven’t learned a lot about me, but I hope they’ve learned that I’m going to go back to work tonight and I hope I’m going to try to make us a little bit better tomorrow," said Stevens. "That’s all we can do. You ride this emotional roller coaster if you don’t. All of the sudden, we’re 4-4 and we’ve got the whole world figured out when in essence that was only seven days ago when we were 0-4. This thing can turn quick and, with our schedule as it continues this month, it can turn real quick. So we’ve just got to focus on day to day, game to game to see how good you can be on that night and know that you always have a chance to win or get beat."
Read on for a few more leftover notes from Monday's win:
DON'T WORRY: Forgive Stevens if he fretted a bit at times during the second half when Orlando looked like it might make a run (even with Boston up as much 21. "Well, one of the things that I’ve learned is that double-digit leads mean nothing in this league. Absolutely nothing," said Stevens. "That’s why I was on edge... and [veteran assistant coach] Ron Adams told me it was OK to smile."
BENCH SPARK: Boston's bench, which struggled at times early in the season, has provided a real jolt for the Celtics in recent outings. Noted Jeff Green: "It’s great because when the first unit is clicking, and then the second unit comes in, we know that it’s going to be a letdown on our offense or defense. They’ve been playing very well, lots of energy. Gerald [Wallace] and Courtney [Lee] being aggressive, and [Jared Sullinger], he’s been playing tremendous. They’ve just got to keep going and we’ve got to keep doing what we’ve got to do in the first unit to give them the freedom to just play free with a lot of confidence."
WALLACE CHANNELS BRADY IN MIAMI: Reflecting on his part in the last-second heroics in Miami on Saturday, Wallace said he never even looked at his intended receiver before delivering the perfect cross-court lob that led to Green's winning 3-pointer at the buzzer. Told the pass was Tom Brady-esque, Wallace -- a die-hard Patriots fan -- smiled proudly and joked, "Me and Brady worked on that in the offseason." Wallace noted how Green told him he was headed to the far corner as they walked onto the floor after the timeout. "I never paid attention to him, I paid more attention to [Chris] Bosh and making sure [Miami's defenders] didn’t switch and nobody was able to jump out in front of the passing lane." The pass sailed right over the fingertips of Bosh.