If the Celtics play like that, they will be unstoppable, but …

Play with the passion, effort, and urgency that you brought in Game 2 of this Eastern Conference semifinal series every single time, and October’s daydream will become June’s reality.

The Celtics can be seen enjoying themselves on the bench during Game 2.
Not surprisingly, the Celtics bench was all smiles in the fourth quarter of the Game 2 rout. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

That’s it. That’s exactly it.

Play like that, Celtics. Play every game here on out in these NBA playoffs the way you did in Wednesday night’s 121-87 throttling of the Sixers.

Play with the passion, effort, and urgency that you brought in Game 2 of this Eastern Conference semifinal series every single time, and October’s daydream will become June’s reality.

If you can play like that, if you can muster such focus every time you take the hardwood — parquet or otherwise — that overdue 18th banner will be raised at last to the TD Garden rafters.


Not could be. Will be.

There will be no hedging here. It really is that simple.

The Celtics have the deepest and most well-rounded roster in the NBA. They have more quality pieces than any remaining playoff team, and the pieces fit well. In terms of talent, they are better and deeper than the team that lost in six games to the Warriors in last season’s NBA Finals. They are built for this.

All the Celtics have to do is resist tripping into those familiar habits that end up making the pursuit of their championship goals more complicated than it has to be.

Can they do that? At the least, Wednesday’s win showed that they are capable of ramping up their intensity and playing their best when circumstances demand it and a loss would leave them in a grim situation.

The Celtics had to win Game 2 after sleepwalking through Game 1 at home Monday against a Sixers team that presumably was weakened by the absence of center Joel Embiid, the NBA’s Most Valuable Player this season.

The Celtics did not take advantage of the massive void. They took it for granted, forgot to involve Jaylen Brown in the second half, and took an approach on defense that was uninspired tactically and in terms of effort. After James Harden dropped 45 points on their heads in a 119-115 Sixers win, more than one Celtic acknowledged that Embiid’s absence probably made them complacent.


It was the kind of victory that stirs optimism. If they play like this, anything is possible … But that’s the question too: Can they play like this all the time? Can they resist complacency when they have an advantage, perceived or real? Can they eliminate the lapses in judgment and intensity and maintain consistency like the champion they aspire to be?

All of the answers will not be revealed until the season ends, one way or another. But Game 2 was the Celtics at their best, even as the best Celtic wasn’t anywhere close to his best. Jayson Tatum ran into foul trouble and finished with just 7 points in 19 minutes. It’s a tribute to Brown, Brodgon, White, Marcus Smart, and the rest of the talent on this roster that the Celtics won in a blowout despite Tatum and Al Horford combining to shoot 3 for 17.

The Celtics can build on this with a similar determined all-around effort — and presumably a far more productive performance from Tatum — Friday night in Philadelphia.

Frankly, the Celtics should win this series in five games, six at the most. Embiid is compromised by his injury. Harden is an enigma. The Celtics are deeper, more well-rounded, more talented overall.


But will they build on Game 2′s stellar and necessary performance? Will they sustain that intensity and determination?…

You’d like to think the lesson has been learned. Maybe this is the time, with 11 wins to go for a championship, that it has finally sunk in for good.

I want to believe it. Now let’s see it.


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