Quite frankly, this, what the Boston Celtics have done since opening night last Tuesday, is what professionals are supposed to do.
"Bring it" every night.
Of course, in the times of six-month schedules, playing on back-to-back nights and 10-day road trips, plausible excuses always get in the way.
The 3-pointers by Eddie House, Ray Allen and newbie Rasheed Wallace bring everyone, including the home crowd to their feet. The alley-oop dunks to from Rajon Rondo to Kevin Garnett are almost seamless. And Paul Pierce's fade away jumpers are still as smooth as the driven snow.
But what's happening on the other end of the floor, when the opposition has the ball, in this billion dollar industry, is priceless.
Save for Chris Paul's vintage run in the third quarter (6 for 6 from the field) and Peja Stojakovic's 25-foot range in the fourth quarter (3 for 5 on 3-pointers), the Celtics defense was stout.
The Celtics beat the Hornet 97-87 last night.
Four games in and the Celtics have allowed 81.3 points per game. Of the 16 quarters they've kept the opposition under 20 points in seven of them.
It hasn't really mattered who's playing either, be it the first unit, the second unit or some hybrid of the two.
"I've always prided myself on defense, but around here every guy has pride," said Celtics backup shooting guard Marquis Daniels. "You should see our practices. All 15 guys want to play defense. Guys are all over the floor on loose balls. Defense is fun around here."
Defense is fun?
Maybe for the 1985 Chicago Bears. But apparently not as much in the NBA.
"It's what I admire about the Celtics," said Hornets coach Byron Scott. "That talk on defense. They communicate. They are committed to playing defense, everyone in the organization. Until we do that, we're not going to be consistent. When you play like they do, you're not going to be up and down. You're going to be in every game."
Why doesn't every NBA team do it? Why doesn't every NBA coach demand it?
Well, every NBA team doesn't have Garnett, who needs zero influence from coaches or teammates when it comes to sweat, which is really what defense is.
"I'm a big advocate of the Boston Celtics," said Hornets superstar guard Chris Paul, probably one of the top five players in the league. "I watch them play whenever I can. It all starts with Kevin Garnett. Man, I could talk about Kevin Garnett all night. He has so much passion and desire."
Remarkably, the Hornets made 13 of 28 3-pointers last night, which on most nights would probably mean a 100-plus points.
But not at the TD Garden on this night.
The Hornets made only 21 of 53 shots from close range, which is where defenses earn their keep.
"I've seen them on tape. I've played with a lot of those guys," said Hornets forward James Posey. "I know what defense means over there. It's a mentality. They've got everybody on the same page, even the new guys like Rasheed (Wallace) and Marquis (Daniels). We need to get there."
Everybody should get there. But apparently very few do.
E-mail Bill Burt at email@example.com.