Kristaps Porzingis Makes Clear What Celtics' Mindset is Entering Playoffs

Feb 11, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA;  Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) goes up for a shot against Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo.
Feb 11, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA; Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) goes up for a shot against Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo. / Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

One of Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra's many famous phrases was that the game is "Ninety percent mental. The other half is physical."

It's as humourous as it is accurate. And in the case of the Boston Celtics, despite entering the playoffs on the heels of a dominant regular season, going 64-18 and securing home-court advantage throughout their postseason run, adopting the mindset that they're the hunted puts them on defense.

Even the Tom Brady-era Patriots consistently found ways to convince themselves they were the hunter, finding what allowed them to be the aggressor.

And while the Celtics registered the highest plus-minus rating (11.3), ranked first in offensive rating (122.2), yielded the second-fewest points per 100 possessions (110.6), and had the best net rating (11.7) in the regular season, the playoffs are a different beast.

A core with one member who won an NBA title, which Jrue Holiday won elsewhere, trying to win with the mentality that they're the hunted is likely less effective than being in attack mode, seeking to take the fight to their opposition -- especially Boston's Round 1 opponent, the Miami Heat.

Ahead of Sunday's series opener at TD Garden, Joe Mazzulla stressed, "balance is the most important thing. Understanding that we are a really, really good team, but the humility to know that if we don't take care of X, Y, and Z -- if we don't take care of the margins, we can lose at any time."

The Celtics' second-year bench boss continued, "I think there's a balance: we definitely don't want to go in thinking less of ourselves or thinking too highly of ourselves. Perfect balance is important – we're really, really good when we do this, and how long can we do that for? That's the ultimate test - toughness and discipline."

When asked about the pressure of entering the playoffs as the team that achieved the most success in the regular season and the target that places on them, Kristaps Porzingis emphatically stated that Boston views itself as the hunter, not the hunted.

"I think in the playoffs, everybody's coming for everybody. We want to be the hunter. We don't want to have to defend. We don't have to defend nothing. We go and get it. That's our mindset."

Further Reading

How do the Heat Adapt Without Jimmy Butler? Joe Mazzulla Weighs in

'I Knew It': Jaylen Brown Discusses Celtics Drawing Heat in Round 1

Brad Stevens Addresses Potential Extension with Derrick White

After Career Night, Reflective Payton Pritchard Discusses NBA Journey and His Ultimate Pursuit

Jrue Holiday on Celtics Extension: 'Try to Get More Banners, Get More Rings'

Jaylen Brown Shares What Latest Milestone Means to Him

Celtics Embracing Challenge to Go Beyond Most Talented

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

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Bobby Krivitsky


Bobby Krivitsky's experiences include covering the NBA as a credentialed reporter for Basketball Insiders. He's also a national sports talk host for SportsMap Radio, a network airing on 96 radio stations throughout the country. Additionally, he was a major-market host, update anchor, and producer for IMG Audio, and he worked for Bleacher Report as an NFL and NBA columnist.