Grim assessments, a long face (presumably) and lukewarm optimism were the prevailing themes coming from Boston Celtics point guard Kemba Walker following Boston’s ugly loss Sunday to the cellar-dwelling Washington Wizards.
Walker, whose 25 points, seven rebounds and two steals were one of the very few bright spots for Boston, couldn’t muster much of anything when asked what positives could be extracted from the loss.
“Positives? There ain’t many positives, I’m gonna be honest,” answered Walker, whose mostly downtrodden responses at the postgame presser spoke volumes. “We just not good right now.”
Walker instead made it clear his focus was on the bigger picture rather than his solid game. “It doesn’t matter because we lost. I’d rather win. So there’s nothing I can really take away,” he said.
The 104-91 defeat, a more lopsided affair than the final score would indicate, and to a Wizards team that had not held an opponent under 100 points all season, punctuated a disastrous week for the Celtics.
Aside from losing four-of-five games, Boston’s president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge, revealed that 25-year-old star guard Jaylen Brown is dealing with tendinitis. The team also learned that veteran bulwark Marcus Smart isn’t exactly close to returning from a calf strain.
When the Celtics lose to teams that were 6-19 and 6-17 pic.twitter.com/vvrEqjEt0d
— Boston Diehards (@Boston_Diehards) February 14, 2021
Player-Only Team Meetings ‘Don’t Work’
After a strong 8-3 start to the season that prompted talk of a championship run — especially with the prospect of adding major value through a midseason acquisition (Boston possesses the largest traded player exception ever, $28.5 million) — the Celtics, losers of 10 of their last 15 games, now have the feel of a team simply trying to survive.
Even so, Walker feels the ship can be righted.
“It’s very controllable. I don’t think it’s anything that’s uncontrollable,” said Walker. “It’s us. As a whole we just gotta be better. I could do a better job of getting my teammates prepared to play a game. We’ll get better. Some very disappointing losses….we are just not playing the way that we know that we’re capable of playing. It has to be fixed, and soon.”
Asked whether he thought a player-only team meeting would do some good, Walker was dismissive. “Those player-only meetings don’t work,” he said, pointing instead to changing the team’s intensity level.
“We just need to play harder. That’s it. We are not playing hard, not playing as hard as we can,” Walker said. “When you play hard, great things happen. Right now it just hasn’t been consistent. We gonna continue to watch film and just learn from our mistakes.”
Celtics Need to Overcome Adversity ‘Together’
The 13-year veteran Walker, who came to Boston in 2019 after being the centerpiece in Charlotte for over a decade, is having his most unproductive season since his 2011-12 rookie campaign.
According to Basketball-Reference, his 36.3% field goal shooting and 4.0 assists are the lowest of his career, while his 16.3 points per game are considerably lower than his 19.8 career average.
“It’s been tough, I’ve been struggling,” Walker admitted. “But it’s just a part of the journey. Just a little bit of adversity that I have to work through.” Similarly, the team’s struggles, Walker said, are not unusual or even that unexpected.
“Right now we’re all going through some adversity,” Walker said. “Teams go through adversity every single year at some point in the season. It’s just all about how you overcome it. And the only way you overcome adversity is by doing it as a whole, by doing it together, and that we will do.”