The Boston Celtics‘ “season from hell” continued on Wednesday as they added yet another disappointing loss to their resume, a 102-94 defeat at the hands of an undermanned Cleveland Cavaliers team — snapping an 11-game skid for the Cavs. The loss puts the seventh-placed C’s record at 35-35 on the season and officially books them a ticket to the NBA play-in tournament.
Just or unjust, head coach Brad Stevens has shouldered the majority of the blame for Boston’s shortcomings this season as media personalities and fans alike attempt to make sense of the team’s disappointing situation. However, both star Jayson Tatum and veteran Tristan Thompson believe it’s time for them and their teammates to take a look in the mirror.
Both Jayson Tatum and Tristan Thompson said it’s on the players to get off to better starts and to not play down to their opponents.
Thompson: “We can’t wait for Brad to give us a halftime speech.”
Tatum: “We’ve got to take ownership. It’s on us. We’re professionals.”
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) May 13, 2021
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Thompson Calls Out Team’s Defensive Efforts
One of the most glaring weaknesses on this Celtics’ roster has been defense. Readily amongst the league’s best in years past, Boston currently owns a 112.0 defensive rating, 18th in the NBA. For comparison, they ranked no lower than sixth in defensive rating in each of the past three seasons, while last year’s 106.5 rating was good enough to place them fourth across the league.
“Defense is five guys on a string,” Thompson said. “So even if you have two guys out there busting their tail and playing hard and playing with a level of physicality, if you have other guys who are not following or losing sight of their matchups or just not knowing ‘KYP,’ know your personnel, it makes it tough out there.”
Now, on the heels of a four-game losing streak, with All-Star Jaylen Brown on the mend and a playoff spot not even guaranteed, Thompson is urging his teammates to turn things up over the final stretch.
“We have to understand, this is for all the marbles and there’s no redos,” he said. “We can’t get the season back. Whatever is in front of us we have to attack and know what’s at stake. You’ve gotta have that win or go home mentality.”
Tatum: ‘I’m Trying to Figure it Out’
Appearing in the Eastern Conference finals in three of the last four seasons, Tatum has enjoyed quite the prolific start to his NBA career. Yet, he believes that this year’s tribulations will prove as a quality learning experience as his career surges on.
“I think that this is just a part of my growth from year to year, facing new challenges and learning from them,” Tatum said. “Obviously not going to be perfect, but I’m trying to figure it out as best as I can to help us in any way possible.”
“In situations like these where you fall short, I just think about what more can I do,” he added. “And I’m pretty sure there are a lot of things I can do better. I’ll just continue to watch film, try to figure it out, try to be better for the next one and just try to be there for my team as much as I can right now and for the future.”