Better communication key takeaway from Celtics' closed-door meetings

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BOSTON -- The feel-good vibes are indeed alive and well inside the Boston Celtics locker room, courtesy of snapping a three-game losing skid with a 16-point win over Charlotte on Sunday, a victory that was certainly aided by a pair of closed door team meetings leading up to the game.

Multiple players said the meetings included candid talk about the need to better communicate with one another, something they hope will spill over into tonight’s Christmas Day matchup against Philadelphia.

Celtics guard Marcus Smart said there were many takeaways for him and the rest of his teammates following the meetings which were held immediately after Friday’s loss to Milwaukee, and resumed the following day for another 90 minutes.

But the thread binding both meetings was the need to better communicate with one another.

It was indeed evident in their 119-103 win over Charlotte, a game in which the Celtics were teetering with a 30-point lead in the fourth quarter before both teams emptied their benches.

“Everybody was out there talking,” Smart told NBC Sports Boston after the win over Charlotte. “And it showed. Everybody was in the right spot at the right time, offense and defense. We moved the ball better than we probably have, all year. Everybody was looking for everybody else, so it was good for us.”

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Celtics guard Terry Rozier also acknowledged how improving communication was a talking point of their meetings.

“You could definitely hear all the communication going on out there and that makes everybody’s job easier,” Rozier told NBC Sports Boston. “We’re just looking to help one another out, pick each other up. When we’re playing like that, we’re a tough team to beat.”

Playing as a collective bunch will indeed be important tonight against a Sixers team that has been among the top teams in the Eastern Conference most of this season.

And since these two met in the season opener in which the Celtics won going away 105-87, the Sixers (22-12) have bolstered their lineup significantly with the addition of All-Star Jimmy Butler.

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In 17 games with the Sixers, Butler is averaging 18.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

But more than the scoring, Butler provides the Sixers with a proven closer -- something they have lacked for the most part this season prior to acquiring him via trade.

Philadelphia also has All-Star Joel Embiid and 6-foot-10 point guard Ben Simmons who, along with Butler, form a talented triumvirate that makes Philadelphia a legit threat to come out of the East.

Smart knows the addition of Butler makes this game different and a lot more challenging, compared to their first meeting.

But as much as figuring out how to deal with Butler is important, ultimately the Celtics' success comes back to how they approach the game and whether the lessons learned in their closed-door team meetings and play against the Hornets, can last more than just one game.

“It’s going to take every last guy on this roster,” Smart said. “We have to be able to trust one another and just go out there and have fun doing it.”

Which would be the perfect gift to Celtics fans.

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