Last season, the Boston Celtics managed to finish as the second best team in the Eastern Conference and reach the conference finals despite losing Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. When both superstars recovered from injury, the Celtics emerged as the top favorite team to fully dominate the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference in the 2018-19 NBA season. Unfortunately, the Celtics failed to live up to expectations and have gone through lots of ups and downs.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who led the Celtics last season, have noticeably struggled, especially on the offensive end of the floor. Now that Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are playing again on the team, Tatum and Brown have received a reduced role in the Celtics’ offense. In the games they played this season, both young players showed a decrease in their field-goal percentage and shooting from beyond the arc.
In the Celtics’ recent loss to the Utah Jazz on Saturday night, Kyrie Irving left a strong message to Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Irving is aware of the added pressure given on both young players, but the All-Star point guard said that it is something that Tatum and Brown should get used to. Irving believes that the Celtics should start playing to the standard if they want to accomplish their main goal this season.
“I think last year, the young guys that are in the locker room now, some of the guys that are playing, they were a little bit younger,” Irving said, via Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
“They weren’t expected to do as much, and I think that the amount of pressure that we put on them to perform every single night is something that they have to get used to, being part of a great team like this. If you’re not playing to the standard then, as a team, we just don’t all click. I think once we get that, and we find that consistency, we’ll be good.”
Celtics frustration is growing. After benching most starters early in the fourth, Brad Stevens called out his team's toughness. Then Kyrie Irving said the young players need to get used to the pressure on them.
About the irritated locker room scene: https://t.co/2nqd8E6Ahg
— Jay King (@ByJayKing) November 18, 2018
Per ESPN, the Celtics currently rank No. 1 in NBA’s defensive efficiency, just allowing 99.3 points per 100 possessions. However, their offense proved to be a major concern for a team who is aiming to fully dominate the Eastern Conference and take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy this season. As of now, the Celtics are 24th in NBA’s offensive efficiency, scoring 103.5 points per 100 possessions.
Before the 2018-19 NBA started, the Celtics already expected to struggle to immediately build a good chemistry between their returning superstars and their young players. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown still have lots of things to improve in their overall game, but if they manage to address the issues, both of them could once again make a huge impact for the Celtics this season.