The Boston Celtics’ success last season made most people believe that they are ready to conquer the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference. Despite not having Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, the Celtics finished as the second-best team in the Eastern Conference and almost eliminated James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the conference finals. With the return of both superstars, the Celtics were expected to be a more dangerous team in the 2018-19 NBA season.
Unfortunately, the Celtics struggled earlier this season and failed to live up to expectations from the squad that was supposed to be the best team in the Eastern Conference. On Wednesday night, the Celtics suffered a massive defeat from the hands of the rebuilding New York Knicks in front of their fans at the Madison Square Garden. In a post-game interview, Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens can’t help himself but express his frustration with their current performance.
“I just don’t know that we’re that good. Maybe it’s not a wakeup call if you keep getting beat,” Stevens said, via Sam Amico of Amico Hoops. “We have to play better. It’s not because we’re not capable of being good. It’s not because we weren’t good at one time in our lives. It’s your good if you play good and the results are speaking for themselves.”
Despite letting the Knicks score 117 points on Wednesday night, the Celtics are still ranked No. 1 in NBA’s defensive efficiency, allowing 100.9 points per 100 possessions, per ESPN. However, their offense proved to be a major concern. As of now, Boston is ranked No. 25 in NBA’s offensive efficiency, scoring 104 points per 100 possessions.
Since returning from an injury, Kyrie Irving already looked like his old self, but Gordon Hayward is yet to regain his All-Star form. In 17 games he played this season, Hayward is only averaging 10.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.4 steals on 39.2 percent shooting from the field and 28.4 percent from beyond the arc. In the past two games, Coach Brad Stevens demoted Hayward to the bench and replaced him with Aron Baynes in the starting lineup.
Coach Brad Stevens made it clear that his decision to remove Hayward from the starting lineup has nothing to do with his poor start. Stevens also added that all of them should shoulder the blame for their struggle and not just one or two players.
“It’s not one guy. It’s not two guys. It’s all of us,” Stevens said. “We’re not playing with the same personality we played with last year. That’s the easiest way to describe it.”
The Celtics’ next game will be against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night at Philips Arena.