(Head)Banding Together on the Road
Jayson Tatum recognizes how important it is for him and his Celtics teammates to band together when they’re on the road. But he felt that they needed to add another layer to their connectedness during the second matchup of their five-game West Coast trip by head-banding together.
When Boston took the court against Portland Saturday night, all five of its starters, along with most of its bench players, were sporting identical black headbands, a proposal which Tatum had suggested as a symbol of team unity.
“It was an idea I threw out before the game, to do something as a team,” Tatum said following Boston’s 145-119 win over the Trail Blazers. “It don't got to be permanent or anything, but the season can be long and tough, so just do some things to have fun and kind of bring us together.”
Although the notion was seemingly trivial in the grand scheme of things, Boston’s players loved the idea. It gave them something to smile about and added some positive energy into the locker room.
Producing such energy among themselves while they're away from the comforts of home is vital, Robert Williams believes.
“Being on the road is definitely the biggest part of coming together,” Williams said Tuesday afternoon prior to Game 3 of the trip against the Los Angeles Lakers. “We’ve got a couple of fans out [in opposing cities), we’ve got a big fanbase around the world, but it’s just us and the coaches once we get there. So as long as we instill that good energy and find energy within ourselves, we’re all right.”
The Celtics brought great energy Saturday night, as they cheered on their teammates to their highest-scoring output on the road since 1982, all while playing shorthanded and in a hostile environment.
Jayson Tatum and Dennis Schroder helped to fill the offensive voids of Jaylen Brown and Al Horford, scoring 31 points apiece and putting the game out of reach by the end of the third quarter.
However, the most thrilling part of the night came during the final frame when the team rallied around Payton Pritchard in his Portland homecoming. The sophomore point guard got hot late, scoring 16 of his 19 points during the fourth quarter to help Boston to its highest-scoring frame of the season (42 points). The entire time, his teammates were going nuts on the sidelines, building his confidence with every shot.
It’s of utmost importance, Williams stresses, to show such support for each other during both the good times and the bad, because that’s what keeps a team united throughout a season.
“It’s a commitment, just staying together, knowing that even though we get all the criticism, good and bad, it’s just us in the locker room after a loss; It’s just us before games, after games,” Williams said following Tuesday's shootaround in L.A. “So just keeping that mindset going forward and cheering each other on, picking each other up, too.”
There are plenty of ways to generate team chemistry, whether it's cheering on a teammate who’s shot himself into an unstoppable rhythm, or simply wearing matching attire. Those little things all add up to help a team band together – or, in the Celtics’ case, to head-band together.