Entering a weekend rematch with the Washington Wizards, the Boston Celtics‘ 2021-22 campaign to date has left something to be desired. It’s early yet — and the team is led by a new coach, who is also working in new players — but as the Celtics sit at 2-3, there are some clear areas where things need to change
If you ask former coach and, now, team president Brad Stevens, it all boils down to maintaining a consistent effort level.
“We don’t have so much talent that we can’t play well,” he told Toucher & Rich on Friday. “We have to be way more dialed in possession to possession than we have.”
Stevens’ statement definitely rings true where Boston’s October 27 loss to the Wiz is concerned. In that contest, coach Ime Udoka’s squad stumbled out of the gate and was a step slow throughout the night. In the 116-107 loss, the Celtics were minus-10 on the boards and were also outpaced in the paint (58-50) and on fast breaks (11-6).
Stevens Says the Cs Can’t Afford to Coast
Teams at the very top of the Association, i.e. the Golden State Warriors of a few years ago, the 2019-20 LA Lakers, the Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz during the ’20-21 regular season, can get away with coasting. As Stevens said, though, this year’s Celtics don’t quite make that cut.
“Great teams, with the very best players — the great, great teams — can get away with playing in spurts. If you’re, you know where we are, which we have a lot of really good players, but so do the other teams,” Stevens said. “There’s good players all around the league so that if you take four possessions and you’re not really dialed in, that’s going to be a 10 point run.”
Boston’s top decision-maker isn’t panicking, but he does believe that everyone needs to dig in and play task-oriented basketball.
“I’m not going to overreact to a five games sample, but there are some things that are concerning if we don’t start playing possession to possession. That’s the bottom line,” Stevens said.
“It’s not about what your reputation is, it’s not about what people say about you. You’re good if you play good and that goes for the whole team. That goes for everybody that put the team together, everybody that coaches the team, everybody that plays the game, and you share results and then you improve from there.”
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Celtics’ Rebounding Has Been Woeful
Everything going on right now is subject to the small sample size qualifier, but the Celtics have nonetheless been one of the worst rebounding teams in the Association. Through five games, the Cs have corralled just 47.3% of available rebounds, a bottom-five mark league-wide.
While there are some obvious drawbacks to trotting out a starting five featuring two stone-cold bigs, one would expect that the inherent size advantage would pay dividends on the glass. But Al Horford’s return to the lineup hasn’t fixed the problem.
The Celtics are still under 50% when Horford and Robert Williams III have shared the court. However, the team has been otherworldly defensively in their limited minutes together, boasting a D-rating of 78.1.