Brad Stevens: Celtics 'Not Far from Where I Thought' We'd Be at All-Star BreakMarch 5, 2021
The Boston Celtics are 19-17 at the All-Star break, and head coach Brad Stevens had a positive appraisal of the team's first half.
"We're not far from where I thought we would be," Stevens said Thursday, via Brian Robb of MassLive.com.
The Celtics defeated the Toronto Raptors, 132-125, on Thursday to enter the break on a four-game winning streak.
But prior to this newfound run of form, the Celtics suffered a tough stretch punctuated by the loss of Marcus Smart to a calf strain.
At one point, they came home from a West Coast road trip after going 2-3 and 4-8 in their last 12 outings, their weaknesses highlighted when their defense allowed the Utah Jazz to drop 74 second-half points in a loss.
"In a sense, that's a lack of toughness and that's a lack of leadership," Jaylen Brown told reporters after the Jazz game in February. "A lot of that is on me. As a leader of this team, I take responsibility for how we respond and how we come out in that fourth quarter. It just wasn't there for us."
Boston had high expectations entering this season, with a lineup that now boasts two All-Stars in Brown and Jayson Tatum, the latter of whom missed a five-game stretch following a positive test for COVID-19—and has said he still feels symptoms from his battle a month later.
The team was limited in the beginning of the year as four-time All-Star Kemba Walker nursed a knee injury, and now it found itself struggling to reach the halfway point with the loss of Smart, a two-time All-Defensive guard.
With all of that in mind, it's worth recognizing that the Celtics, who dropped out of last year's postseason with an Eastern Conference Final loss to the Miami Heat, have had their fair share of adversity this season, and its nothing to complain about that they're above .500 heading approaching the break.