Chris Forsberg

Porzingis, Celtics enter NBA in-season tournament with clear mindset

'We want to win everything.'

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Boston Celtics make their NBA In-Season Tournament debut Friday night at TD Garden when they open group play by hosting the Brooklyn Nets. And at least one player, raised on European leagues that embraced midseason tournaments, believes it could inject some energy into November basketball.

"I love it,” said Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis. "In Europe, we always have some sort of tournament, preseason or during the year. So when I was growing up, I always enjoyed those kinds of tournaments.

"Kind of more spotlight, something that's midseason. So I think it’s been presented really well here in the NBA. We'll see, we'll see when it happens, but I believe it's going to be a great success. I know a lot of people are a little bit skeptical; I think it's going to be a huge success and I look forward to hopefully winning it.”

The Celtics, smarting from consecutive losses to the Timberwolves and 76ers, have plenty of motivation beyond the cash prize and pride incentives of the tournament.

And Porzingis is serious when he suggests the Celtics want to win the tournament.

"Of course we want to win it. We want to win everything,” said Porzingis. "Why not be the first-in season tournament champs? Of course, it’s going to be tough. There are many good teams. But any competition, any game, any quarter, anything, we want to win it all. And we're going to give our all to to win it.”

The Celtics are resting fellow big man Al Horford on the first night of a back-to-back, but Brooklyn’s lack of size makes that an easier decision. Boston hosts the Raptors on Saturday in a non-IST game.

Boston will debut new City Edition uniforms for Friday’s game and will play on a new green-colored court. Coach Joe Mazzulla doesn’t think his team’s approach should change despite the designation of an in-season tournament night.

“You should have that mentality of trying to win every game,” said Mazzulla. "I understand what they're trying to do. I appreciate watching the three different, four different leagues, like European soccer and basketball. So we’ll see where it goes. But I'm not going to talk it up any more than like, it's one of 82 and you’re trying to win every single game. You should just bring that mindset each game.”

Brooklyn defeated Chicago to open Group C play last week in the only group play game so far. The Celtics visit the Raptors next Friday night in their second group play game. They travel to Orlando for a matinee group play game on November 24 before wrapping group play with a visit from Chicago on November 28.

The quarterfinals of the in-season tournament are slated for December 4-5, with the semifinals and finals in Vegas on Dec. 7 and 9.

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