The vibe entering Tuesday night’s game against Toronto – from fans to media to the players themselves – was that the Celtics would be able to ‘get up’ for their game against the Eastern Conference powerhouse Raptors. After all that’s what the 2018-2019 Celtics tend to do. Play to the level of their competition.
— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) February 26, 2019
The Celtics played relatively well to start Tuesday’s game ending a fast paced 1st quarter with a 32-30 lead.
And then the second quarter happened.
Toronto outscored the C’s 36-13 in the second frame to take a 66-45 lead. The only thing left was to wait for the customary postgame finger pointing and to parse through the postgame commentary for clues as to what’s wrong with this team and what if anything can fix it.
“Not being together,” Marcus Smart told reporters after the game. “And that’s it. We’re just not together. Plain and simple. That’s it. Because if we were together that wouldn’t happen. We’re all talking and linking up, but like I said it’s something we’re going through and it’s something we’re going to have to continue to work at and figure it out. I’m really sure that we will. I just don’t know when. But I’m sure we’re going to figure it out. Just right now it’s going slower than we expected.”
Head Coach Brad Stevens – who blamed himself after Saturday’s ugly loss to the Bulls – said the responsibility lies with everyone.
“We have to be more connected as a team,” a visibly flustered Stevens told NBC Sports Boston after the 118-95 loss. “It’s been a theme for a while.”
Stevens also blasted the team’s recent poor defensive play which he acknowledged is not simply a phase.
“This is real,” Stevens said. The reality is that we’re taking a lot of shortcuts and not being as solid as we have been in the past in the last two games. It’s not like we don’t know what we need to do but, for whatever reason, we’ve taken too many shortcuts. You can’t do that against any team.”
Kyrie Irving’s comments or lack thereof where even more telling. Irving – who after last game hinted that the Celtics could flip the switch if they wanted to – left his switch in the off position. Kyrie scored only 7 points on 3-for-10 shooting.
Irving was seen talking to Celtics President Danny Ainge when the locker room opened. And when it was time ton answer questions Kyrie was not in a talkative mood.
Kyrie Irving wasn’t into sharing an answer elaborate response to Brad Stevens saying Celtics are trying to take “shortcuts,” and Marcus Morris saying the team isn’t playing together. pic.twitter.com/Kt4NKYS861
— Mike Bohn (@MikeBohnMMA) February 27, 2019
Here is the entire exchange.
Q. It seems like lately when teams hit you guys with a big run, you haven’t responded. What is up with that?
Irving: “I don’t know.”
Q. Can you talk about the lessons that you want to take away from this game? Is there anything specific you really want to focus on for tomorrow?
Irving: “Uh, just remaining tough.”
Q. Brad talked about defensively you guys have been taking shortcuts. So do you see that, and how do you guys fix things like that at this point of the season?
Irving: “I don’t know. It’s up to Brad.”
Q. Marcus said that you guys aren’t playing together. Is that a fair diagnosis?
Irving: “It’s Marcus’ opinion. I respect it.”
Q. Is it yours?
Irving: (No Answer. Celtics PR ends interview)
4 questions. 19 words. Silence.
A stark departure from a man who just three days prior was overflowing with conference that the Celtics were still the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.
Are you still sure about that?
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