The Boston Celtics entered the 2020-21 regular season perceived by many as legitimate title contenders. However, after yet another loss on Wednesday night — a 113-108 defeat at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks — the Celtics continue to fall further below .500 as they hover around the cusp of NBA irrelevance.
One of the team’s biggest pitfalls this season has been their lackluster defense, namely on the perimeter. Wednesday night was no different. Boston allowed Dallas to shoot 48.7% from the perimeter, increasing their opponents’ shooting percentage to 37.3% from 3-point range on the year. As a whole, the Celtics’ once-lauded defense has fallen to No. 21 amongst all teams in terms of defensive efficiency.
The difference between this year’s Celtics team from teams of years past is night and day, and All-Star Jaylen Brown has taken notice.
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Jaylen Brown Speaks Out After Mavs Loss
“Definitely, this is a new year, a new team,” Brown said following the loss. “We got a different level of response than we’ve had in the past. Celtics basketball is about scrapping, getting after guys defensively, 1 through 5, we haven’t had that in the starting unit or off the bench. As a team, we haven’t had it. In years past, we have. I guess that will be the response to that. It doesn’t mean that tomorrow can’t spark something different. It hasn’t been there as much as we would like this year.”
Boston did show life towards the latter end of regulation, outscoring Dallas by 15 points in the final 16 minutes. Unfortunately, it was too little too late and an all too common occurrence.
“It’s just the same old story,” head coach Brad Stevens stated. “It’s like 12 minute droughts because we don’t respond. Then we pick ourselves up and we’ve got a big deficit and we play the way that teams can play down… But we’ve got to respond better in the middle of the game. We just haven’t. That’s the bottom line.”
Brown Hopeful the Team Can Turn it Around
Despite his team beginning to be written off by the masses, Brown isn’t ready to mail it in quite yet.
“I know everyone is going to carry the last month and a half or two months into this next phase but we got a new group,” Brown said. “We have a couple new additions and we’re trying to find some continuity a little bit. We found it later in the game, rather than early. We are still challenging ourselves to put 48 minutes together. We got 20-plus games left, we still have a chance to do so. I want to encourage everybody to do that, to inspire everybody to do that. Everybody wants to be pessimistic, to pick everything apart, it doesn’t help. We’re trying our best to put everything together with the right moving parts and we just have to put our best foot forward.”
Brown, who sat out Monday’s game due to a hip injury, returned to the lineup on Wednesday night, dropping 24 points. However, they’ll need much more than an offensive boost from their 24-year-old superstar if they want to make a late-season push. While the team didn’t pull off the blockbuster deal that so many fans were hoping for, the Celtics are hopeful that the new faces they did bring in will help turn things around.