BOSTON — Through two games — a win over a really good team and a win over a really bad team — the Boston Celtics are set on nothing less than a championship.
And they are not afraid to say it.
"Why not us?" said Celtics forward Rasheed Wallace following Boston's win over Charlotte. "I think that we can handle it. We set that bar really high. I think it would say less of us as players, coaches and a team if we sat up there and said, 'We just want to make the playoffs.' No, that's not our main goal. Not our agenda. With great teams. You have to set great marks like that."
There is very little boring false modesty — like that repetitive droning blandness that has become the mantra over the years from the football team in Foxboro.
No "it is what it is" or one of the countless other cliches that makes real fans roll their eyes.
When captain Paul Pierce addressed the crowd before the home opener, he talked of adding championship banner No. 18. During the season-opener in Cleveland, coach Doc Rivers was caught by cameras talking championship to his team.
And in Boston's training facility, where all 17 banners hang on the wall, next to the 2007-08 title banner hangs a blank championship banner.
"It's no secret what our goals are," said Rivers. "We know what are goals are. We're not fooling anyone, and we're getting after it."
Good for the Celtics. When did confidence (not arrogance, that is different) become a bad thing in sports? When did it become wrong for athletes to say they want to be the best — that anything less than greatness was a disappointment?
Michael Jordan did it, and that worked out pretty well. Larry Bird as well. There is plenty of swagger on the team. Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Wallace are all well known for talking to opponents. It is not "one game at a time" or "playoffs first." This team is set on adding another banner to the rafters.