Celtics fans will love this quote on Tatum and Brown's playoff mindset


The disappointment of losing the 2022 NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors has served as a source of great motivation for the Boston Celtics all season, and now they finally have an opportunity to get back to that point and finish the job.

The Celtics open their 2023 playoff run Saturday afternoon when they host the Atlanta Hawks in Game 1 of the first round at TD Garden.

The Celtics are a well-rounded team with a deeper, more talented roster than they had last season. But the squad likely will only go as far as its superstars -- Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown -- take it.

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After a successful regular season that saw the Celtics finish with the league's second-best record, Tatum and Brown are totally locked in for the task ahead. They're champing at the bit to get going.

"You feel that it kind of keeps you up at night, sometimes it's like an itch, like anticipation," Brown told NBC Sports Boston's Chris Forsberg this week. "But I definitely sense it in Jayson right now. He's more locked in, he's more vocal, like you could hear it in his voice. The tone of his voice has changed. He's serious and as am I.

"It's an exciting time and it's a tense time, but it's a fun time. It's a blessing to be able to play this game. It's a blessing to be able to play it at this ultimate level. So, I'm excited, I can't wait to come out and fight like it's just like, the art of war type of thing."

The Celtics face a tough road back to the NBA Finals. The path could include the likes of the Philadelphia 76ers, Cleveland Cavaliers, the Milwaukee Bucks and others. All of these Eastern Conference teams are formidable and beat the Celtics at least once during the regular season.

But the Celtics have played really well against the best teams this season. In fact, they went 10-3 versus the top three seeds in each conference. If the C's play to their potential, it's hard to envision any opponent beating them four times in seven games.

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