I honestly didn’t believe it.
Robyn sent Bernie and Charlie in to tell me, and I thought they were playing a prank on me.
But it’s true. As we announced last week, Robyn is pregnant with our fourth child, and this time, we’re having a boy. I’m excited. I would’ve been either way. Daddy’s Always Happy, you know? Still, the fact that it’s a boy is really cool, too.
Robyn has been pretty sick with this pregnancy. She’s been saying she feels way worse, and that made me think maybe it could be a boy this time because they talk about how sometimes a boy will make you feel more sick. Despite that, she’s pumped and I’m so proud of her for being so good for our girls while dealing with all that. We’re really happy to have our fourth one on the way.
She initially wanted seven kids, and I wanted two kids. So four seems like a pretty good compromise to me.
FINDING OUR GROOVE
We’re about a month from the end of the regular season, and for me personally—and for the team as a whole—this stretch of games is about trying to find ways to be playing our best basketball at the end of the year.
I thought we had a really good West Coast trip right after All-Star break. That was a really tough set of games to start back up with. Obviously, we wish the Lakers game would have gone a little bit differently, but for the most part, it was a good trip.
Since then, we’ve had some tough losses at home. In spite of that, I do feel like we’re headed in the right direction.
The goal here is always to compete for an NBA championship, not necessarily to put everything on the line in a game in February or March. In the NBA, it’s a long, grueling season, and you get banged up. For us, it has been a struggle. It seems like there’s always been somebody that’s out.
But one of the strengths of our team is our depth, and the amount of guys on this team that can handle a lot of responsibility. So being able to kind of work around these injuries, due to our depth, and due to the talent that we have, has been good for us. We’ve found ways to win basketball games, and that’s important. That’s what you want.
Hopefully, by the end of this month—when we get closer to the playoffs—we’ll have everybody back at their best, and we can build a rhythm and get going that way.
We certainly have all the pieces to be a championship contender. Offensively, we’ve got lots of different weapons, guys that we can go to, lots of playmakers to get a big bucket. I think that can be a blessing and a curse sometimes. We’re blessed as a team to have this many ball handlers. But I think that’s also a danger for our team, because we have so many guys who can do different things and make plays, and create shots for themselves. In some cases, we’ve basically just stopped moving the ball and instead kind of watched and taken turns. That’s when we get out of rhythm.
When you’re not the one handling it, you’ve got to find other ways to impact the game and try to help us win. If we’re playing an isolation game, and not hitting shots that night, it’s pretty easy to get beaten. So we just have to be careful of that, and try to make sure we’re keeping the ball moving side to side.
When we utilize everybody, and by that I mean, moving the ball, moving bodies, making it so we’re not just kind of standing and watching and taking turns, that’s when we’re at our best. Certainly, when we can get in transition, too—with the ability for anybody to bring the ball up, and how fast we can get up the court with the athletes that we have—we’re at our best, too.
That’s where we really have to really make it easy for ourselves on the offensive end—through good defense. When you’re able to get stops on defense and then run, you can get out and get easy baskets. Usually in those situations, the ball is moving because you have an advantage when you’re in transition, in some way or another. The reads are always pretty easy, and you’re able to make plays. Everyone is getting involved that way.
We definitely have shown this year—and I truly feel this—that we have the ability to be really, really good on defense, to lock people down just with how versatile we are. So it’s a big key for us, defensively, making sure that we’re focused on that end of the floor.
JT AND JB
I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shoutout to some of the guys on this team and the way they’ve been playing to help us win so many games.
Jayson Tatum has been playing at a phenomenal level. What’s taken him to that level is shooting the three with such success. Especially this last month, he’s just been ridiculous. When he’s hitting the step-back three, he’s pretty much unguardable. So it’s opening up drives and other things for him. That’s been the biggest difference this year, in my opinion: the way he’s shooting it from outside.
I know he’s worked really hard at it, and as the year has gone on, he’s gotten more and more confident. Now he’s playing at a supreme level of confidence. That’s one of the biggest keys to success in the NBA. When you have the confidence, and you’re playing with that confidence, that’s when you can really start to shine. He’s done a good job kind of building that up.
The same can be said for Jaylen Brown.
Jaylen is having a really, really good year that’s gotten underrated a bit because of what JT is doing. But I think when you look at the games, it’s very similar. JB has been more efficient than at other points in his career as well. He’s one of the best all-around athletes in the NBA and teams know that. But this year, he’s knocking down the three at a really high clip. He’s done a good job of spacing as well as shooting the three, and when he’s doing that, it opens up his whole game, too.
That confidence comes at different times for every guy.
A lot of it depends on the situation that you’re put in and then being able to gain experience in that situation. A lot of people don’t see or understand that when players come into the NBA, 90 to 95 percent of them are playing a role that they probably haven’t played their whole life. It’s more of a support type role. They’re asked to do one or two things, and that’s about it.
But then there are some players that come in and they’re given way more freedom, way more responsibility right away. So they gain experience doing that. It usually takes those guys a little bit less time for the game to—as everyone says—“slow down” and for them to really feel like they are gaining some confidence, understanding when to attack, grasping the timing of the game, the rhythm of the game, all that stuff.
Being out on the court and playing, there’s nothing better than that from an experience standpoint. Two years ago, after I got hurt, Jayson and Jaylen played huge roles on this team, playing significant minutes and having significant responsibilities, and they went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. There’s no better experience than that, and certainly that helped them both out.
The NBA is all about opportunity. If you’re not given the opportunity, then you’re not allowed to make your mistakes and figure it out for yourself. So it just takes guys different amounts of time to get where they want to be.
One guy that never lacks for confidence is Marcus Smart. He does so many things for us, a lot of them little things that don’t show up in a stat column. He’s also been a guy that’s been asked to come in and out of the starting lineup based on who we have available. That’s a really hard thing to do, and I think he’s done a great job with that. But he’s another guy who has been really good from three, and I think that’s helped us out. All the other stuff he does, his playmaking, his defense, are the same Marcus Smart that you know and love. But the confidence he’s shooting with has added another dimension.
Then there’s Daniel Theis, who has had a really great season for us. With the injury to Rob Williams, he’s been asked to kind of anchor us on the defensive end. And he’s just got such a great feel for the game on both sides of the floor. He does so many little things. He’s one of the best big man sealers in the league, and gets everyone on our team so many buckets on pick and rolls, just by sealing off his guy. He’s been able to knock down some threes, too, and then defensively, he’s been excellent. For a guy who is 6-8, playing against some seven-footers, he protects the rim really well. I just think he’s done a great job this season.
We’ve got a tough stretch of games coming up here in March with a lot of back and forth between home and the road, which is always tough. I would rather have road trips and home stands. Obviously, it’s super nice to be home and know you’re going to be home for a little bit. It’s just hard to establish a rhythm when you’re constantly going through one here and one there. Flying back and forth throws your sleep clock off, especially for me because I don’t sleep on flights. You’re getting in at weird hours, sometimes switching time zones. It also messes with practice availability, and the ability to get that rhythm that I talked about. So that is going to make this next stretch that much tougher. We just have to push through it.
When we are home, we’ll need that amazing support our fans always give us. You guys have been great all season, and we wouldn’t be in this position without you. We’re looking to make a big run here in the playoffs.
So bring that energy, continue to #BleedGreen and we’ll do the same.