Boston Celtics (8-4) head coach Brad Stevens has been in the NBA long enough to know when his team isn’t playing to his standards and doesn’t need a glance at the Eastern Conference standings to learn how good his team is.
The New York Knicks (7-8) coupled the Celtics’ underwhelming offense did that for him Sunday, following a 105-75 trouncing. Boston turned in its worst offensive performance at TD Garden in over 15 years.
However, the Celtics – winners of five of their last six contests – are sitting atop of the Eastern Conference at No. 1.
Brad Stevens On Celtics (8-4) Quick Start: ‘We’re Fortunate To Be Where We Are’
Still, (as you can imagine) seeing his team muster up only 75 points at the end of regulation resonated with Stevens, who addressed the media Tuesday afternoon after team practice.
“I think we’re OK,” Stevens said. “I’ve been around a lot of good teams here, some teams that went far in the playoffs and I think we’re OK. I think we got a lot of room to grow and get better. And, I think we’re fortunate to be where we are from the standpoint of our record. Can we be better? Yes, I think so. And, we just have to keep working towards that.
“I’m encouraged by the fact that we’re getting contributions from a number of people. Although I think, obviously, we’ll be searching for consistency.”
Playing without your best scorer in Jayson Tatum will affect a team’s offense, especially the Celtics’ – a team with only three players averaging double figures in scoring. Alongside Jaylen Brown, the tandem, is averaging 52.7 points a game this season – which accounts for nearly half of Boston’s scoring average on the season (110.8).
However, without Tatum and facing off against a Knicks team with two bonafide scorers in Julius Randle and RJ Barrett – guys who can put the ball on the floor and score off the dribble – Boston’s defense struggled to make up for the team’s offensive shortcomings on the opposite end. Even though it was Kemba Walker’s anticipated season debut the Celtics offense, once stagnant, returned to bad habits of yesteryear.
Heaving 3-pointers isn’t always the cure. Boston made franchise history for its record-breaking 39 missed 3-pointers (7-of-46) against the Knicks and while Walker will make the trip to Philadelphia to take on the Sixers Wednesday, it’ll be another game without Tatum.
The Celtics hope to see him back in the lineup for their rematch against Philly on Friday. For now, Boston will look to find its offensive rhythm and bounce back from its worst loss of the season.
Brad Stevens On Having Kemba Walker Back: ‘We Don’t Have A Shot If We Don’t Let Him Be Him’
For Stevens, one very positive sign that his team’s offense is heading in the right direction is the return of Walker, who’s not only feeling “pain-free” for the first time in a while but his progression, thus far, has been very promising, Brad explained what it means for the Celtics, in the long-run.
“We’ve all got to make the game easier for Kemba,” Stevens said Tuesday. “Kemba is not the type of guy who comes to the pack. We have to all come to him. If we’re going to be a good team and we want to compete with the teams that are the best in the league, we don’t have a shot if we don’t let him be him.
“When he comes back, he’s going to be everything he’s always been and he’s a great encourager of everyone else to keep doing what they’re doing.”