The Boston Celtics held a players-only meeting ahead of their matchup against the Orlando Magic, Wednesday night, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, thus triggering explanations from Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, and some of his players, including All-Star Jaylen Brown.
Reporting for ESPN’s NBA Countdown, Wojnarowski discussed information he gathered from the team’s meeting, per sources.
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“They had a players-only meeting, and Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown did talk about the collapse against the Bulls and Smart’s comments about those two not passing the ball at times,” Wojnarowski said. “It was emotional at times, but in the end, perhaps not a terribly productive meeting, maybe not even beneficial. These are issues with this team, with this group, that have been going on for a while.”
Ime Udoka: ‘It Wasn’t Really a Players-Only Meeting’
Udoka, who addressed Woj’s report following the Celtics’ 92-79 win at Orlando, Wednesday, says the impromptu team discussion wasn’t something he or anyone else planned. But rather a talk that happened on its own after a team dinner.
“It wasn’t really a players-only meeting,” Udoka said. “We had a team dinner scheduled way before anything happened. That was planned for some weeks now and we gave the players their time before the coaching staff and everybody else came down.”
According to Brown, it also gave players more opportunity to gameplan for the Magic, which is something the 25-year-old star says has been the primary focus leading into Wednesday’s matchup.
“The last few days, we’ve just been focused on Orlando,” Brown said after Wednesday’s win against the Magic. “That was the goal: come out, try to get a win. That was it. Team meeting (was) just an opportunity to talk as a group, get some communication going in, and move forward. At the end of the day, we’ve been playing basketball together for a long time, all of us, especially our core group. So, when it comes down to it, it’s all about trying to find ways to win, and that’s what the conversation was about, etc.
“The last two days, we’ve just been focused on Orlando, and now we’re focused on Miami.”
Celtics players granted the opportunity to get issues that have been weighing down on them out in the open is a good thing, especially two weeks into the regular season. Whether the meeting was counterproductive to resolving the issue between Smart, Tatum, and Brown, or not, Boston will be judged by its results, which, so far, is a clean slate.
But, it’s still early.
2018-19 Celtics: Those Who Don’t Learn From History… Are Doomed to Repeat
The last time Celtics fans caught wind of a ‘players-only meeting’ was in the midst of Boston’s tumultuous 2018-19 campaign when All-Star guard Kyrie Irving was pointing blame at his younger teammates on more than one occasion. From insinuating the Celtics organization trade for experienced veterans to berating teammate Gordon Hayward for not getting him the ball at the end of a loss at Orlando (coincidently), Irving seemingly grew tired of Boston and left.
Now, Smart is in the same driver’s seat Kyrie occupied three years ago. He also had a front-row seat to Irving’s approach in Boston alongside Tatum and Brown, in 2018-19, which is an advantage for the three wise men to take in stride while steering clear of turbulence that should re-route their team into finding a resolution that’s best-suited for winning.
“Just a matter of staying with it this time,” Udoka added after Wednesday’s win. “That was the message: Start good; finish well. We did that throughout the game. As we were going through the game, I just kept telling them don’t get complacent. We’ve been here before.”