Jayson Tatum Puts Celtics Starters on Notice With Strict Demand

Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

Getty Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

In what was arguably their worst performance of the season, the Boston Celtics slipped to a blowout defeat at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Upon the conclusion of the game, Jayson Tatum, who himself had a poor game by his usual standards, was vocal about the team’s need to rediscover their identity as he addressed the media for his post-game press conference.

“I think it’s on that first group to, you know, we gotta get back to our identity. I think when we were playing at the highest level, we just played faster. Just like some point-five basketball, shoot it, pass it, or drive it. Because, when we play like that, we’re damn near unguardable,” Tatum said.

Tatum’s statement comes after the Celtics have moved away from the free-flowing offense that saw them come out of the gates hot to start the season. Instead, over the past month, Boston has been more stagnant in their ball movement and easier to predict in their offensive sets.

Jaylen Brown Sounds Off After Thunder Defeat

Heading into their game against Oklahoma, nobody envisioned the Celtics being mauled to the tune of 150 points – especially their star players. However, that’s exactly what happened, as Boston’s defense fell apart in the second and third quarters.

When asked about his team’s performance, Jaylen Brown gave an honest response, detailing how the Thunder kicked Boston’s a***.

“We got our a** kicked. That’s what happened. When you come out, you take it for granted. That’s what happens. We probably had it coming to us, you know, came out last couple of games; we pick and chose when we wanna play. We wasn’t connected, didn’t have each others back out there, no help side defense, we didn’t guard our yard. And, those young boys over there came out, and they made us look bad. They embarrassed us. They kicked our a**,” Brown said.

In fairness, Brown is telling the truth. Not only did the Thunder do a number on Boston’s defense, but they also sped up their offense, leading the Celtics to take numerous low-quality shots or force the ball inside when an extra pass would have made a significant difference.

Joe Mazzulla Hoping His Team Learns From Their Struggles

If you remember, the Celtics went through some similar struggles to begin Ime Udoka’s tenure as head coach before turning things around during the second half of the season to become one of the best teams in the NBA.

According to Joe Mazzulla, Boston’s struggles will only serve to improve their ability in the long term and will sculpt how we judge them as the season progresses.

“May not be the most popular thing to say, but you gotta go through some s*** if you want to get to where you want to get to, whether it’s good or bad, and that’s just how it is. And so we have to go through it and we’ll be judged by how we handle it,” Mazzulla said.

It’s worth noting that while it feels like the Celtics are struggling when playing against Western Conference competition on the road, the truth is, they’re currently .500 when playing on the West Coast, having won four and dropped four. However, things aren’t getting much easier for the Celtics, as they will now be gearing up to face the Dallas Mavericks, who are amidst a seven-game win streak and boast one of the best players in the league in Luka Doncic. As such, Boston will need to be at their best if they want to get back into the win column and avoid entering another losing streak.