Stevens Keys in on Enthusiasm While Addressing Celtics

BOSTON – Halfway through the season and amid the busiest month of their six-month schedule, the Boston Celtics are focusing on maintaining their enthusiasm. That, to Brad Stevens, is what can set them apart from their competition.

“I talked to the team about this today,” Stevens told reporters following the team’s Monday-morning shootaround. “The difference between mediocre, good and great is you’re able to have the enthusiasm for prep, to work to prepare to win the same in January that you do in August, when everybody says they’re excited … I think that we all are really fortunate to be here, and I hope we continue to play that way.”

Doing so is likely more difficult for athletes and coaches than some on the outside might expect. The NBA season is, as Jaylen Brown called it, “a journey,” and at times, it can feel quite repetitive. It’s easy for them to feel like they’re stuck on a hamster wheel, going around and around until the postseason or the offseason arrives.

Brown learned that all too well during his first three seasons in the NBA. He admitted that he didn’t quite understand how to maintain enthusiasm throughout a long season when he came into the league as a 19-year-old.

“It took a while,” he said.

But soon enough, he learned a few tricks of the trade from the veterans who surrounded him in Boston.

“[Isaiah Thomas] used to talk trash to everybody, and I feel like he used to do that, to be honest, to get himself going, you know?” Brown said. “So learning stuff like that. Everybody has their own methods.”

Brown’s methods can be found in the minute details of his daily routine.

“Little things matter, like the music, what you listen to, just finding ways to motivate your teammates,” he said. “Being competitive, challenging each other and stuff like that is a great way to stay motivated and stay energetic throughout the season.”

Brown’s ability to figure that part of his career out has helped him to reach an All-Star level of play this season. Similarly, the Celtics’ ability to figure it out as a team has helped them to rack up the third-best record in the NBA thus far.

But there’s still a long way to go.

Boston will play 10 games in the next 18 days, including Monday’s tilt with Chicago, as it moves into the second half of its schedule. The need to maintain enthusiasm has been important to this point, but that need will grow even stronger in the coming months.

This team’s ability to remain enthusiastic about its daily grind could very well determine how successful it will be once the postseason arrives in mid-April.

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