Boston’s three-game road trip came to an ugly end Wednesday night in Atlanta when the visitors allowed 127 points in the team’s worst defensive outing of the season. It was Boston’s third straight loss and fourteenth overall in its last 21 games, leaving a bad taste in the locker room.
“As long as you have that Celtics jersey on, you should never feel comfortable losing,” Jaylen Brown said. “I feel uncomfortable. It sucks for me personally. And all of us as a group should take up the challenge.”
A closer look at four things we learned from Boston’s horrible loss.
Jaylen Brown thinks the Celtics aren’t disconnecting Brad Stevens: There has been a lot of criticism nationally about the longtime Boston head coach in the middle of an ugly stretch of basketball for the Celtics. However, one of the Boston All-Stars stated that the head coach still has the undivided attention of the locker room even after a mediocre effort in Atlanta.
“We heard it,” Brown said. “Obviously, things change from game to game, but you have to execute each and every night, and I think it has been a challenge for this group to go from game to game with no time in between and execute the game plans. I can tell that whatever the focus is, it’s not there. Is not sufficient.”
A short staff roster amid injuries and COVID-19 cases has been a clear factor in Boston’s uneven play, but Stevens knows he has to do better to help bring out the best in this team. He believes he has conveyed that sense of urgency to the players in an uninspiring game.
“I would say that what I say to you and everyone else is not what I say in the locker room, necessarily,” Stevens said. “And how you say it is certainly very important, and I’ve had my moments. Let’s put it that way. That being said, I think this team seems, at this point, to be balancing the game without confidence and insecurity with the fact that we’ve had a couple run away. Listen, none of us are happy with the work we’ve done, and I should be at the top of that list with where we are. “
Jayson Tatum believes that he and his teammates need to be more responsible going forward: The Boston All-Star forward fought through one of the worst shooting performances of his season (4 of 20 shots from the field, 1 of 8 of 3) and turned tough on himself after the dismal outing.
“We have to take some responsibility,” he said. “I have to take responsibility as one of the leaders and be that guy. I have to be better. I have to be more vocal. I have to be the example, especially knowing that we lost two difficult games, playing in a row. I take a lot of responsibility for the way we play today I guess and we’ve been playing. We have four games until halftime. Four very important games because I think the time has come. We don’t have much time or we don’t have time to relax. We have to dig deep and we have to figure it out. “
Tatum’s efficiency has dropped sharply in February after recovering from a COVID-19 attack. The All-Star is shooting just 41 percent from the field and 33 percent from the 3-point line, a sharp drop in his season numbers that have contributed to Boston’s overwhelming 5-9 record since Marcus Smart suffered a calf injury. . Stevens has faith that this group can turn things around with Tatum leading the way after what he has done in past seasons.
“We are all upset and disappointed in how we played,” Stevens admitted. “I think that has affected the confidence of the group and instead of fighting, scratching and scratching, we have had moments where we have not. And we have to get back to that. This team has it in them. I’ve been lucky enough to be there before with them and I know what they have. These next four games will tell us a lot about where we can go.
The Celtics are on a funk road on the 3-point line: Boston faced three of the worst defenses in the NBA on this road trip and was unable to find the back of the net consistently against any of the three on the perimeter. Those shooting problems continued Wednesday night against the Hawks as Boston dropped just 8 of 31 attempts beyond the arc (25.8 percent), with Danilo Gallinari (10 of 12 of 3) outscoring the visitors from long range. It was the fourth straight road game in which the Celtics shot 30 percent or less from 3-point range, and it is no coincidence that this team has lost all four games. On the year, Boston is 0-12 when shooting 33 percent or less from 3-point range, a troubling indicator for a team that relies so heavily on that shot every night.
Boston’s stars are not yet resting: Despite the Celtics trailing by more than 20 points for most of the second half, Jayson Tatum (32 minutes) and Jaylen Brown (29 minutes) played pretty close to their usual list of minutes. Both All-Stars have been among the league leaders in minutes per game for the past month, as injuries kept Boston’s wing rotation short each night. Tatum has averaged 36 minutes a night and Brown is very close to him at 35 and given the heavy offensive responsibility both guys carry on a jam-packed schedule, it’s fair to wonder if both players are starting to wear out a bit while trying to carry this. equipment at night and at night.
Stevens clearly didn’t want to give the impression that he was throwing in the towel in this early game after such an ugly effort in the first half. However, with so many limited days off on the schedule looming, giving his key guys an extra break in the second half may have helped the team more than watching them both get things done at the end of a crushing loss.