The Celtics Are Saying the Right Things, But Do They Really Mean Them?

Jayson Tatum

Getty The Boston Celtics talk a good game, but they don't always follow through.

The Boston Celtics have been the best team in the NBA all season, but none of that matters as the postseason approaches. Dominating the regular season is one thing, but winning when it counts is another.

Led by All-NBA stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the Celtics haven’t won a championship since 2008. Tatum and Brown have gotten them close, but Boston has struggled to close out the deal. This year, it’s championship or bust for the Celtics. Right now, Celtics players and coaches are saying all the right things as the playoffs lurk, but do they really mean them?

Jayson Tatum Says the Celtics Haven’t Skipped Any Steps This Year

It’s tough to criticize a team that owns the best record in the NBA at 59-16 and clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference in March. The Celtics own an 11.5-game lead over the second-place Milwaukee Bucks.

Still, the Celtics have plenty to prove. Two years ago, they faced the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals and held a 2-1 series lead, only to see the Warriors win three straight. In 2023, the heavily-favored Celtics fell to the Miami Heat at home in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

After a victory over the Charlotte Hornets on April 1, Tatum was asked about the difference between last year and this season.

“I think last year we were so antsy to get back to the Finals that we had a few bad losses in the last few weeks of the season,” Tatum told reporters. “We went to six games in that first round. We may have took some things for granted. This year, we’ve done a really good job of not skipping steps and respecting every game everyday, just trying to get better, as cliche as that sounds.”


In the last three weeks, the Celtics blew a 22-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Then, during a two-game series against the Atlanta Hawks, they watched a 30-point lead disappear in the first game and then lost the second in overtime. Getting swept by the Hawks and taking your foot off the gas pedal against the Cavs would be considered skipping steps.

The Celtics Need To Learn From the Past

The loss to the Cavaliers, a game that seemed well in hand, ended an 11-game winning streak. It was supposed to be a learning experience about not letting up. Brown said so after the game.

“In the fourth quarter, we didn’t execute,” Brown said. “Got some open looks that didn’t go down, but you put yourself in that spot when you don’t put a team away, don’t match the gas. We should’ve match the gas when we was up 22.

“We kind of hung around. It was cool. Comfort will kill you. I think we needed that. I think it’s good. That keeps us on our toes and keeps up being able to learn and move forward. We’ve got to be able to put teams away.”

Twenty days later, they blew a 30-point lead against a much inferior team. The lesson wasn’t learned.

The Celtics aren’t good enough to turn the switch on and off. This group hasn’t won anything. The playoffs are a different beast, and the Celtics need to start doing instead of talking.

Read More