The Boston Celtics entered the 2018-19 NBA season as the top favorite team to dominate the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference. With Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward rejoining the core of Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum, most people believed that the Celtics have a real chance of dethroning the reigning NBA champions, Golden State Warriors.
Unfortunately, the Celtics failed to live up to expectations from the team that was supposed to be the best in the East. As of now, Boston is sitting in the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference with an 11-10 record. The Celtics undeniably have one of the most talented rosters in the league. However, having a plethora of great players is nothing if they can’t bring all those pieces together.
In a recent conversation with A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston, NBA legend Paul Pierce discussed the Celtics’ struggle and how they can unleash their full potential.
“Sacrifice is going to be the word I’m going to constantly say with them,” Pierce said, as transcribed by NESN. “They have to play at a faster pace. They have so many guys that can put the ball in the hole. Yeah they’ve been great defensively, but they have so much on offense, they have to play faster, you know, give each other more opportunities because you got guys like Jayson Tatum — you know, maybe on another team, he’s capable of scoring 25 points a game. Same with Jaylen Brown, same with Kyrie Irving, same with Gordon Hayward.”
Paul Pierce believes that some of the Celtics’ players should make a huge sacrifice with their game in order to help the team achieve their main goal. Pierce said he has already been in a similar situation when Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined him in Boston during the summer of 2007. Upon the arrival of Garnett and Allen, Pierce told himself that he should stop caring about individual goals and focus on what they wanted to accomplish as a team. Pierce’s sacrifice paid off as the Celtics won the 2008 NBA championship title and he was named the Finals MVP.
Even before the 2018-19 NBA season started, the Celtics young core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Terry Rozier already knew that they need to make a huge adjustment in their game for Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Unfortunately, one of those returning superstars has been a huge disappointment and is yet to regain his All-Star form. This season, Hayward is only averaging 10.1 points and 5.4 rebounds on 40.0 percent shooting from the field and 29.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
As of now, Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens is still trying to figure out how to end their current struggle. In their previous games, Stevens has been doing different lineup experiments to see what works best for the team. The Celtics’ next game will be against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night at TD Garden.