BOSTON After spending part of the preseason overseas and gathering for pick-up games in California this past summer, the foundation was set for this Boston Celtics team to be a close-knit group.
It's one thing to hang out and get to know someone and learn to like them as a person.
It's a completely different matter transforming that bond into trust on the basketball court.
And for all that has gone the Celtics' way of late, the emergence of their trust in one another - at both ends of the floor - is quite apparent.
Even head coach Doc Rivers senses that the team's level of trust now is on a different level than what he saw earlier this season.
"The trust may not have been there throughout the team early on," Rivers said following Boston's 116-95 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
With more than half of the roster new this season, Rivers thought there were times when the ball would swing to one player and not another simply based on trust; or in some instances, a lack of trust.
"I thought guys at times would look and uh, 'I'm not going to throw it to him, I'm going to throw it over here,'" Rivers said. "Now they're just letting the ball go and it's finding the open shooter."
While some might try and point to Rondo's departure as being a factor in the team's increased trust, remember the Celtics' turn-around to their season began with their defense.
And that improved play defensively began in January when Rondo was still in the lineup.
If anything, his torn right ACL injury left the Celtics little choice but to trust one another more than ever.
Adversity has a trickle-down effect on a team, with increased trust at times being one of the byproducts.
"This is all we got right here, in this locker room," Celtics big man Chris Wilcox told CSNNE.com. "We're here for each other, fighting for each other, every game. That's the only way we can get to where we want to be."