Celtics found formula for success

Getting a few days off wasn’t the only reward earned by the Celtics when they drop-kicked the Heat back to Miami. The vanquished have brought their wounds to South Beach in search of some unconditional hero worship.

What the Celtics gained by their Game 5 domination is a swagger. Maybe they have had it all along but misplaced it. But on Wednesday night they looked like a club that is mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it anymore.

Regardless of the obvious denials, athletes know when they are being criticized. Had the Celtics lost Game 5 the air – more to the point, the airwaves – would be thick with doom. They couldn’t put away this inferior foe in four games, as they should have. Missed opportunities lead to widespread panic in these parts.

So the Celtics doused them with a sneer. Leading wire-to-wire, running the Heat’s soul out of the building by halftime, is the ideal response when surrounded by hand-wringing.

All great teams have a healthy swagger. Some are cool, some are obnoxious, but all have the ability to make opponents doubt themselves simply by taking the floor.

The same is true for all great players. One withering glance can inspire a case of the yips.

Consider, for instance, Jaylen Brown. He starts the game with a scowl and wears it for the duration. And when the game ends in defeat, the scowl is peppered with a snarl.

Now consider Jayson Tatum. In terms of ability, Tatum is more skilled than just about any hoop artists on the planet.

Despite that, when challenged Tatum’s self-assuredness often leads to whining – at the refs, at the fans, at the moon.

Wednesday night, there was no whining from Tatum. The man swaggered right on into the Garden with a real, honest-to-goodness chip on his shoulder.

Granted, it’s easy to look cocky when your team is leading by four touchdowns by the middle of the second quarter. Still, when Tatum shows that he really has a sharp edge to supplement his superior abilities, it is a welcome sign.

Maybe Brown can let Tatum use his lighter to keep that fire burning for the next six weeks.