Another loss for the Boston Celtics saw the team extended their losing run to three games at the hands of the Phoenix Suns on December 10.
From mid-way through the first quarter, it quickly became apparent that the Celtics were once again lacking a spark off the bench. On a night where wings Jaylen Brown and Josh Richardson were unavailable, Boston was left looking towards young players Romeo Langford and Grant Williams for some offensive firepower, which against a stern Phoenix team, was never going to end well.
While most could stomach the team losing to the Suns, the manner of the team’s loss is what left a bad taste in most people’s mouths. There was a lack of urgency on defense, with players continually baited into early switches off-ball. At the same time, on offense, the Celtics devolved into their usual lousy habit of isolation basketball from the wings.
Most of the bad habits we’re seeing from this Celtics team are nothing new, as it plagued the final season of Brad Stevens’ coaching tenure. However, since the December 7 loss against the Los Angeles Lakers, the way the Celtics have approached games has not been fitting of a team many expected to contend for a top-four spot in the Eastern Conference this year.
Following the 21 point loss to the Suns, Jayson Tatum spoke to the media, detailing what he thinks the team needs to do if they want to snap out of their funk anytime soon.
“I think for myself, for the head coach, I think everybody needs to be a little bit better. Obviously, we all need to work together, but I think everybody gotta look in the mirror and do a little bit more. Just be a little bit better, and I think that would benefit everybody,” Tatum said.
Robert Williams Wants Team to ‘Make It About Pride’
A critical narrative throughout the Celtics season thus far has been about how the team responds to moments of adversity. They seem almost unstoppable when the game is flowing in Boston’s favor, executing sets with precision and precise determination.
But once a call doesn’t go their way, or their opponents go on a run, the Celtics start to recoil into their shell, and that’s when things spiral out of control. We’ve seen numerous stretches where Boston hasn’t been able to buy a bucket or where their defense looks like it’s asleep at the wheel, and these usually come at moments where the team is under pressure and needs to respond.
Robert Williams shared his thoughts on his team’s perceived lack of toughness following the team’s game against Phoenix, “If you gotta make it about your pride, make it about your pride, whatever gets you fired up and be ready to go,” he told the media.
Williams, usually one of the team’s most impactful players, has struggled during the Celtics’ three-game losing stretch. Williams’ struggles started when the Lakers made a defensive switch to eliminate him from the second half of that game and have carried over into the subsequent losses to the Los Angeles Clippers and the Suns.
Udoka Unimpressed With Teams Recent Effort
We’ve heard it all before, Ime Udoka, the Celtics head coach, lamenting his team’s lack of effort and hustle down the stretch. And we’ve certainly heard him criticize his team’s lack of focus after each of the team’s last three games, yet, following the Celtics loss to the Suns, he explained his frustrations a bit more.
“The effort part, or the fight, pride, whatever you wanna call it. It doesn’t matter who’s playing or not. That was not evident on the last three games of this trip to the same extent it was the first two,” Udoka told the media following the Celtics’ third loss on the bounce.
The Celtics schedule isn’t poised to get any easier, and they face the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, December 13, followed by the Golden State Warriors on Friday, December 17. Should the team lose both of those contests, they will be sitting three games out of .500 and possibly five games outside of the Eastern Conference top-4 seedings.