Brad Stevens on Celtics' Loss to Kings: Has to Be 17 Guys Dying to Play TogetherMarch 20, 2021
The Boston Celtics have dipped below the .500 mark for the first time since starting the season 1-2 after Friday's 107-96 loss to the Sacramento Kings, and Brad Stevens isn't happy about it.
The head coach told reporters after the team's third straight loss that he needs "17 guys dying to play well together":
Jaylen Brown was also critical of his own leadership and the team's composure late in games following the loss:
It wasn't all doom and gloom in Boston on Friday. Stevens, after speculation linked him to the Indiana men's basketball head coaching vacancy given that he grew up in the state, confirmed in no uncertain terms that he was remaining with the Celtics.
But something is amiss with the Celtics, and it's unclear what, exactly. The team is now eighth in the East, eight games back of the conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers. It's not for a lack of talent—Jayson Tatum and Brown are two of the most talented young players in the NBA, while Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart are very good, playoff-tested veterans.
Granted, Tatum has been open about his struggles with the after-effects of a COVID-19 diagnosis earlier in the season.
"I think it messes with your breathing a little bit," he told reporters in February. "I have experienced some games where, I don't want to say [I was] struggling to breathe, but, you know, you get fatigued a lot quicker than normal. Just running up and down the court a few times, it's easier to get out of breath or tired a lot faster."
And Kemba Walker was slow to get back into a rhythm after having an offseason stem-cell injection in his left knee.
But Boston's issues seem to run deeper than just some physical setbacks.
Marcus Smart told reporters before Friday's loss that "a lot of things have happened in our lives, personally, individually, where it's hard to come in here and give that energy to somebody else when in your own individual personal life, energy has been drained or you don't really have it."
But he added that team has to "be able to help one another."
"We've got to find a way," he said. "Right now, we're kind of blind, but we're searching for that light. We've got to keep searching. We can't give up. Because I know there's a lot of people out there that's already counting us out. I know there's a lot of people out there that's ready to give up on us, which is fine, it’s cool. We're all we got, so we're the ones that have to deal with the consequences."