All went well for the Celtics in Charlotte.
Spirits were high even before tip-off, as Celtics point guard Kemba Walker was honored with an emotional tribute video from his former team and received a standing ovation. Rookie Grant Williams saw 400 students from his high school, Providence Day, present in the stands to support him at the game.
The team then brought that energy to the court, where they defeated the Hornets 108-87 and solidified their sixth straight win of the season. Even a confrontation between guard Marcus Smart and head coach Brad Stevens over officiating was defused, as Stevens praised Smart for his candor and expressed how much he trusted him.
According to former Celtics forward and current radio broadcaster Cedric Maxwell, players sat together while they were leaving Charlotte, talking and spending time with each other instead of being on their phones.
— Joe Giza (@JoeGiza) November 11, 2019
“Here’s a good story, a good we’re-not-going-to-slap-at-Kyrie [Irving]-story,” Maxwell said to WBZ’s Steve Burton. “I was on the bus with [the Celtics] the other day leaving Charlotte. We’re riding by one of those restaurants, Popeyes, that had all the chicken and everyone is lined up…There’s about five or six players in the back and they all start talking about it. They all start laughing and in the middle of it was Gordon Hayward, Kemba [Walker] and the younger players. They were all laughing.”
Maxwell compared the camaraderie to previous iterations of the Celtics roster, which included now Nets guard Kyrie Irving.
“Everyone had their phones, and they were locked in their phones in their own world. This is the first time I’ve seen this team disconnect from their phones, talk to each other off the court. That’s a huge thing.”
Maxwell believes these off-court moments can help boost the team’s morale.
“That builds chemistry over and over again, and that’s something we didn’t see in the last couple of years. Laughter, when you get that on a team, I think is a really good thing.”