The Boston Celtics hit a rough patch in their 2020-2021 campaign at the end of February, losing three in a row and four of five, to drop to two games below .500, before closing the first half of the season with four wins. For one of the first times in his eight years at the helm, head coach Brad Stevens has been put on the hot seat and his name has been floating around the rumor mill for lead men who could be fired.
The Celtics (19-17) used a recent off day to return home and prepare for those four consecutive tilts at the TD Garden before the All-Star break and Stevens talked on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Zolak & Bertrand radio show about the skid, among other recent misfortunes in his life.
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“I told my wife, ‘I had a root canal and my identity stolen last week and those were two of my better days in the last eight days’,” the coach said.
Coach Says People Tried Opening a Target Account
Per CelticsBlog.com author Keith Smith, Stevens went on to explain the hacker’s actions in further detail.
“It was the real stuff. People were trying to open cards and all this stuff. Calling Target to open account. Like I would have an interest in opening a Target account right now during this stretch,” Stevens said.
Celtics’ Extended Cold Stretch Due to Myriad of Issues
Since a five-game winning streak from January 3 through January 15 that brought the team’s record to 8-3, Boston had not taken more than two games in a row prior to the four straight victories leading into the break.
One of the handful of reasons that analysts and fans have pointed to for the Celtics’ struggles has been the absence of starting guard and defensive pest, Marcus Smart. Unsurprisingly, much of the team’s extended losing has happened since No. 36 suffered a Grade 1 strain of his left calf during a home game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 30.
The Celtics were 10-7 and just 2.5 games out of first place in the East at the time, but Smart has not played in a game since the injury, the group has gone just 9-10 in the span, and now trails the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers by five games.
Aside from Smart’s absence, there has been talk of a potential lack of leadership from star players Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Recently, an anonymous opponent of the pair of All-Stars told CLNS Media’s Jeff Goodman that Tatum and Brown “don’t make their teammates better.”
“(Jayson) Tatum and (Jaylen) Brown can’t be your superstars; they only do things that help their game,” the player told Goodman last week. “They don’t get anyone else easy shots, all they know how to do is score, Kemba (Walker) doesn’t help their center; they don’t help anyone either. They don’t turn down tough shots to get another guy an easy shot so teams are onto them.”
“Load up on those two (Tatum, Brown) and live with them taking long 2s.”
Though the Celtics have been one of the NBA’s bigger disappointments through the first half of the abbreviated 72-game slate, Goodman explained that Stevens, while deservedly on the hot seat, has earned himself an extended leash.
“I think you need to wait and see in a month, on the trade deadline, where you’re at,” Goodman said during an appearance on WEEI’s “Dale and Keefe” on Thursday. “When Marcus Smart comes back, and give Kemba (Walker) another few weeks, and see what the teams looks like then. Then you have a decision to make if you’re Danny Ainge. And I don’t know if you have a decision to make if you’re Wyc Grousbeck, but you probably do in the sense of, are you going to spend some money?”