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The Boston Celtics boast the NBA's most talented top six. The maturity of a group that has accomplished so much individually, sacrificing to maximize this opportunity, has them atop the league's standings at 45-12. They're five games ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who at 40-17 have the second-best record.

But while putting their egos and personal goals to the side to do what's best for the collective is one of the keys to their success, after a 116-102 win over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, the Celtics discussed another essential ingredient.

"We're a more organized team this year," voiced Jaylen Brown, as captured by CLNS Media. "We (are) thinking the game; we're trying to be the smarter team every night, and we take our time. We identify mismatches, and we play the game the right way. I think this is one of the best years that we've done that since I've been a Celtic."

The three-time All-Star, who led Boston with 30 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and dished out three assists on Saturday, continued, "Reading the game; realizing fast but playing slow," citing a core principle of head coach Joe Mazzulla. 

"Recognizing what they're in, how they're guarding you, where the advantages are on the floor, and then taking your time," stated Brown. "Not getting too sped up, not allowing teams to try to muck up the game. We're the more talented team, and we've got to be the smarter team as well, and when we do that, we're gonna be tough to beat."

His comments bring the Miami Heat to mind. They've twice delivered a painful reminder that being the more talented team isn't enough to reach the NBA Finals, let alone lift the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

"Joe is really challenging us offensively to read the game more (and) make better decisions, and I think it's paying dividends," expressed Al Horford, as captured by CLNS Media. "It's challenging because we have to read a lot of things as the game goes, but our guys continue to do a good job with that."

Jayson Tatum was at the center of that for the Celtics' offense in Saturday's rivalry clash with the Knicks. New York's head coach and defensive mastermind, Tom Thibodeau, tried dialing up different pressures to get the ball out of the five-time All-Star's hands.

While that part of his strategy was successful, it didn't lead to turnovers, and there was no effort from the two-time All-NBA First Team selection to fight against the current. Instead, he carved up the hosts' defense as a facilitator.

Mazzulla said after a win in which Tatum finished with 19 points and six assists that he wanted the 25-year-old forward to "stay in that space as long as possible" as he orchestrated Boston's offense and repeatedly set the table for his team's success.

When it comes to their growth reading the game, Horford, who registered ten points and seven rebounds, conveyed the following about Tatum and Brown.

"What makes them special is that they have to look for their own a lot of the time," expressed the 16-year veteran. "You have to look for that, and if the defense takes that away, then you kind of quickly are able to find something else.

"So, they're finding that good balance, especially Jayson. They were doubling him tonight quickly, so he stopped looking for his, and he was just trying to make the right pass and make the right play, and the rest of us, we have to make sure that we make the defense pay for doing those things."

The Celtics' ability to stay a step ahead allows the league's most talented team to sustain dictating the terms of play and quickly counter runs and swing momentum back to their side.

That's what's different about this season.

Yes, this is the most talented team in the era where Tatum and Brown are the face of the franchise. But they've been good enough in that department to have already raised Banner 18 to the TD Garden rafters.

The intelligence, maturity, and willingness to sacrifice are why this iteration of the Celtics is better equipped to get the most out of their group in the playoffs and ascend to the NBA's summit.

Further Reading

Jayson Tatum Opens Up About Sacrificing in Celtics' Title Pursuit: 'It's a Process'

Kristaps Porzingis Shares How First Season with Celtics Compares to His Expectations: 'Haven't Stopped Smiling'

Jayson Tatum's Approach vs. Nets Tale of Two Halves and Steadfast Commitment

Brad Stevens Discusses Celtics' Plan for Final Roster Spot

Marcus Smart Shares How Boston Shaped Him, His Message to Celtics Fans

Celtics Maturation Molded by Experience: 'It Builds, Like, an Armor'

Jaylen Brown Quieting Doubters, Validating What He Always Believed: 'Earn Everybody's Trust'

Joe Mazzulla Discusses Identity, Evolution of Celtics' Offense: 'Balance of Pace and Execution'