The Boston Celtics are a shadow of the team that dominated the NBA to begin the season, yet on March 13, they fell to a new low as they lost to a Houston Rockets team that had amassed 15 wins in 51 games.
When speaking to the media following Boston’s 109-111 loss to Houston, head coach Joe Mazzulla shared his concern regarding his team’s recent slump and inability to win the hustle battles throughout a game.
“Those are concerning, the margins,” Mazzulla said, “The free throws, the rebounding, the turnovers, the second chances. Regardless of who you play, that’s playoff basketball at its finest. The ability to win those situations. So, it’s concerning that we’re inconsistent in that, and we have to be committed to those, regardless. Regardless of who we’re playing, regardless of the situation, regardless of how many games are left, it doesn’t matter. You have to be committed to those.”
The Celtics have now lost five of their last 10 games, going .500 since returning from the All-Star break, and on their current form, look miles away from being a team that is capable of lifting an NBA championship at the end of the basketball year.
Marcus Smart Wants The Celtics To Play Harder
When speaking to NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin on March 8, after the Celtics had dropped three straight games to the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, and Cleveland Cavaliers, Marcus Smart spoke about Boston’s need to play harder if they want to turn their slump around.
“Just play harder. You know, we got to play harder,” Smart said, “Teams are coming in here and out toughing us, you know, and that’s one thing we try to pride ourselves on. Especially early on in the season was, you know, being the tougher team, and right now we’re not and teams are coming in and out-toughing us. So, I feel fixing that will fix a lot of things. Having that tough mentality coming back in and, you know, throwing the first punch, and if you do get hit, hit back and get up and everything else will start kind of slowly coming back together.”
Smart, 29, has been struggling for form recently and those struggles were on show again against Houston, with the veteran guard registering just 6 points, 2 assists, and 2 rebounds on 28.6% shooting from the field and 20% shooting from the perimeter.
Jaylen Brown Urges Boston to Give More Effort
Jaylen Brown was one of the only Celtics players to come away from their loss against Houston, having played a good game, and was arguably the Celtics’ best player throughout the contest.
When speaking to the media during his post-game press conference, Brown discussed his desire to see the Celtics improve their effort in a bid to get their season back on track.
“Taking care of the little things,” Brown said, “Execution. We lost tonight, not really on execution, but lack of effort, not doing our job, the hard stuff, the little stuff is what adds up. The offensive rebounds and loose balls, turnovers. We didn’t deserve to win today.”
The Celtics will now turn their attention to the Minnesota Timberwolves, who they are scheduled to face on Wednesday, March 15, in what will be the third game of their six-game road trip.