The Celtics met for a voluntary workforce dinner Thursday night time in Greensboro, N.C., and the casual amassing grew into stress-free conversations and workforce bonding.
The chemistry of the protecting Eastern Conference champions is anything Blake Griffin spotted the instant he walked into the construction, signed to offer veteran management, a large frame in the paint, and every other voice of explanation why.
Griffin, who made his preseason debut Friday, can’t prevent raving concerning the workforce’s closeness, that may be an unveiled shot at two of his earlier stops: Los Angeles and Brooklyn. Griffin witnessed all of the chaos the previous two seasons with the Nets, the infighting, the refusal of Kyrie Irving to get vaccinated, the disdain for trainer Steve Nash.
Boston is probably not paradise, however the drama is significantly much less. The franchise has moved on smoother than anticipated from the Ime Udoka controversy. Griffin signed after Udoka used to be suspended, so he has little connection with the workforce remaining season and is refreshed by his new setting.
“It’s been great. Everybody from the top to bottom in this organization is great,” Griffin mentioned. “There’s a reason why they have been so successful over the years. Just how everything is run from my short time here. I noticed that.”
The staggering blow from Udoka’s abrupt departure and the cases surrounding his movements had been felt for a number of days, however they’re temporarily gaining convenience and adjusting to meantime trainer Joe Mazzulla. And the stakes are top. The Celtics are picked by some prognosticators to win the East and the league isn’t going to offer any restoration time for shedding a trainer.
“These guys have been here for a long time and they’re been through a lot together, good and bad,” Mazzulla mentioned. “I told them that’s something I’m relying on is their experience and what they’re gone through together to help us. Not surprised at all. We have great players and great people who want to win and it makes the environment very fun.”
Fun and aggressive. The Celtics were going exhausting in observe, desiring to steer clear of the sluggish get started that plagued their first 40 video games remaining season whilst understanding they’ll be the hunted.
Griffin admires the means.
“The intensity in those (preseason) games and in practice and shootaround has been something I haven’t seen in a while, probably since my Clipper days when we were really making a run for it,” he mentioned. “The maturity of this team, and some of us sat down in the meal room for probably 2½ hours and just talked and more and more people came and it was a group of like 10 of us.
“That’s something you don’t really see a lot, as well, on teams that I’ve been on. From those aspects this team is very ready. We still have work to do like everybody else, but I’ve been impressed by where they’re at as a team.”
One specific Celtic thrilled by Griffin’s presence is Al Horford, who now has every other 30-something to bond with. The closeness is plain. Mazzulla has been a herbal substitute for Udoka, working practices with precision and seriousness whilst respecting the gamers’ skill to police themselves.
“I think [the chemistry comes] from last year,” Horford mentioned. “I felt like once we kind of gelled together midway through last year, it carried over and when we got back this season, it’s buddies, like you’re back to school, everybody’s back hanging out together. The new guys are coming in and we’re welcoming them with open arms. [Griffin’s] a great guy to have around. He has a lot of perspective about the game and it’s just been nice to have him around. He’s a vet that gets it. He wants to be part of winning. He wants to do big things and he’s fit right in quickly. He’s one of us already. All of us look to take this journey together.”
Said Griffin: “When you’ve done it for 13, 14 years it gets a little easier every time to kind of know how it’s supposed to go and pick up personalities. These guys are all great.”
Griffin spent years in Los Angeles chasing titles but in addition drowning in chaos. Those Clippers groups had been gifted with Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, J.J. Redick, and Jamal Crawford. But they by no means reached the convention finals, and the bickering and inner problems splintered the workforce.
“I always say this, but I think people really blew the Clippers team (issues) out of proportion,” Griffin mentioned. “It was nothing nearly as bad as the worst. But this [Celtics] team is definitely special in that area. You have some really young teams that get along really well but they’re not good teams. When you have really good players, [Jayson Tatum], [Jaylen Brown], Marcus [Smart], and Al have played together for a long time and genuinely like each other and pull for each other, then it’s special.”
Gary Washburn is a Globe columnist. He can also be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.