BOSTON, MA — Staying together over the course of an 82-game season and a lengthy playoff run is no easy task. But Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum believes his team has been able to gel so well because they truly feel like family.

Following the Celtics' 126-110 win over the Indiana Pacers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Tatum spoke about the motivation his teammates provide:

It's just like having 15 brothers,” he said during his postgame press conference. “We all spend so much time together trying to accomplish something special. So we are all in this together.”

Plenty of the guys on Boston's roster have loads of playoff experience, so they know the ultimate goal this season is a championship, and nothing less. After their double-digit victory on Thursday night, the Celtics hold a 2-0 series lead ahead of Game 3, which the Pacers will host in Indianapolis.

Indiana is unbeaten at home and Boston is undefeated on the road this postseason. Something has to give when the two Eastern Conference foes meet again on Saturday.

The beauty of the Celtics' togetherness

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) and guard Jaylen Brown (7) celebrate after a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in game four of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

A big reason why the C's are headed to Indiana up 2-0 is their cohesion.

Like Tatum said, all of the Celtics are in this together. That means when someone struggles, their teammates are there to pick up the slack.

“We have that environment where everybody has a voice,” he stated. “From the top down to the last one on the bench. We're all in this together.”

In Game 2, Tatum benefitted from Boston's balance. He had just four points and three turnovers at halftime. But in spite of the rough start, the Celtics led 57-51. Fellow Celtics star Jaylen Brown had 24 points through the first two quarters and finished with an impressive 40 points on 14-for-27 shooting.

I think the game is slowing down for him more and more,” Tatum said of Brown's performance. “[He's] finding ways to be effective still while making the right play and just being himself, and we need him to be.”

Since Brown gave the Celtics some breathing room early on, Tatum was able to find his rhythm a bit more in the second half. The five-time All-Star had 19 points (7-for-12 from the field) in the final 24 minutes of the contest. He finished with 23 points, six rebounds, and five assists altogether.

Boston's balance isn't all about their stars and how they can follow each other's leads. The Green Team needs its bench and reserves as well.

Celtics forward Oshae Brissett provided the perfect example of that in Game 2. Even though he didn't see the floor at all in Game 1, he filled in when center Luke Kornet injured his wrist midgame and didn't return.

The former Pacer finished with a plus-minus rating of plus-18 and brought the intensity off the bench for Boston in all 12 of his minutes.

“It was great,” Tatum said when asked about Brissett's impact. “Just the energy that he came in with on both ends, just find a way to impact the game. And like you said, we see the Stay-Ready Group guys work and show up for us every single day. So, I love when they're able to get their number called and get an opportunity to help us win the game.”

The Celtics' “Stay-Ready Group” consists of their rookies and deep bench players who normally wouldn't have any playing time in the postseason. Yet, the craziness and length of the playoffs require an all-around effort to be successful, and not just constant production from one or two players.

Guys that will do anything to win. I feel like that's kind of what is important,” Celtics guard Jrue Holiday said in his postgame remarks. “It's not necessarily getting your stats or seeing what it looks like, but doing whatever it takes to win.”

Maintaining these elements of sacrifice, unity, and depth will be key for the C's if they want to take a 3-0 series lead in Indy.