Even as the Boston Celtics surged up the Eastern Conference standings in the weeks before February's trade deadline, it was often suggested that Boston needed to obtain an impact player in order to be a true postseason contender.
On the eve of the trade deadline, Celtics swingman Jae Crowder argued against that notion.
"There’s a lot of talk about we need a superstar and stuff like that. But all five guys on the court are so locked in and so engaged that we’re one superstar,” Crowder said at the time. "We all play together."
Crowder's quote ultimately spawned a T-shirt emblazoned with the words, "We're one superstar." According to a press release from the Celtics, the team will wear shirts with the same message during the postseason.
Even as Isaiah Thomas has elevated to All-Star status -- and maybe muscled his way into the All-NBA discussion -- the Celtics firmly believe that their success is predicated on team-wide contributions.
The fact that the Celtics have played their best basketball of the season while healthy and leaning on a firm nine-man rotation seems to confirm that. Boston went 19-6 during a stretch from mid-January to early March before the injury bug really started to nip.
Despite a couple of rough patches, Boston is 12-7 over its last 19 games and could be back at full strength for Friday's visit from the Milwaukee Bucks. A three-game stretch against the three teams it's competing with for a top spot in the East -- Hawks, Hornets, and Heat -- follows to close out the regular season, making it even more important for Boston to have all its players available.
While the Celtics know that a higher seed could be beneficial -- the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds will have home-court advantage in the opening round -- Crowder said the team's focus is simply on getting back to playing at a high level before the playoffs arrive.
"We had a good meeting [Tuesday]. Brad said don’t worry about [the standings]," said Crowder. "If we’re going to be the third seed or the fifth seed or whatever, we have to worry about playing well going into the playoffs, no matter what seed we are. That’s where our focus is right now."
"[Home court is] very important and, if we win out, we take care of that. Those things take care of themselves."