Before the devastating news of All-Star Jaylen Brown’s season-ending injury, the Boston Celtics — in the twilight of a disappointing 2020-21 campaign — showed little-to-no fight against the Miami Heat.
In the biggest game of the regular season, with strong playoff implications on the line, the Celtics faltered and allowed 79 first-half points against the Heat, on their way to a 130-124 loss, Sunday afternoon. Boston will get another shot at taking down the Heat, Tuesday night.
However, following the heartbreaking news surrounding Brown and when you consider the pattern the Celtics have set forth throughout the course of the regular season; it’s difficult to predict which team is going to pull up to TD Garden. One journalist who believed the Celtics were damaged beyond repair before Monday’s bombshell news dropped was The Boston Globe’s, Gary Washburn; and he’s staring at head coach Brad Stevens.
Washburn On The Celtics: ‘They Wouldn’t Get Motivated If They Listened To DMX’
While reacting to Boston’s performance, on Sunday, the veteran NBA writer did everything but bury the 2020-2021 Celtics.
“There are no more excuses or explanations,” Washburn wrote. “The Celtics are just not a very good team, regardless of that yet again too-little, too-late comeback during their 130-124 loss Sunday at TD Garden. The team doesn’t defend consistently. The Celtics are mentally fragile and unengaged and they wouldn’t get motivated if they listened to DMX’s Greatest Hits on repeat.”
“They are a numb team,” Washburn added. “A team that gets by on talent and only plays hard when it absolutely has to. The Heat took this game seriously, jumped out to a double-digit lead, and then flat-out embarrassed the Celtics en route to a 26-point halftime lead.”
Washburn On 2020-21 Celtics: ‘There’s Something Wrong Here’
For Washburn, there’s an underlying issue going on.
“There’s something wrong here,” Washburn wrote. “Perhaps it’s the coaching, and Stevens said he takes responsibility for the first half. Usually, in situations like this, when the team doesn’t respond to coaching or plays unmotivated for a long stretch, the coach gets blamed and loses his job.”
Washburn, while using the Atlanta Hawks’ head coaching change from back in March when Nate McMillan took over for Lloyd Pierce after the Hawks’ slow start as an example of how most NBA teams go about its business, Gary highlights how Stevens may be an outlier in Boston.
Washburn On Brad Stevens: ‘He Needs To Take Major Blame For These Shortcomings’
However, it doesn’t exempt the veteran head coach from another disappointing Celtics performance. The Hawks, currently fifth in the Eastern Conference standings, and ahead of the Celtics, are 24-11, per Stat Muse, since McMillan took over.
“This isn’t to say Stevens should be fired,” Washburn wrote. “But he definitely needs to take major blame for these shortcomings and perhaps have more influence on the roster moving forward if he knows he doesn’t have the personnel to defend adequately.”
It’ll be interesting to watch Brad’s approach against the Heat. Trying to fill the void left behind in Jaylen’s absence isn’t going to be easy.
“It’s time for Stevens to play the players who actually want to show Celtics pride and bench the ones who don’t, regardless of egos or salaries,” Washburn wrote. “The “we can’t figure out why we can’t play consistently well” is an excuse that has been used all season and it’s old. They should have figured it out months ago.”