The Boston Celtics didn’t make a big move before the February NBA trade deadline, but they do look like a team whose entire roster has been made available in trade discussions. The Celtics have lost five of their last seven games, including an embarrassing defeat against the Chicago Bulls – a team that currently holds one of the worst records in the league.
Based on their current performance, the Celtics were undeniably better last season when they reached the Eastern Conference Finals and forced a Game 7 against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers despite losing Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to injuries. In an interview with Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN, Marcus Smart said that the Celtics are struggling to consistently win games because they are “just not together.”
“What are the main ingredients to those collapses? Not being together,” Smart said. “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.”
Marcus Smart definitely has a point. When Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward returned from injury, the Celtics immediately became the No. 1 favorite team to fully dominate the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference. However, bringing Irving and Hayward back to the fold without affecting the effectiveness of their young players like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Terry Rozier proved to be a tough challenge for Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Brad Stevens, Marcus Smart call out Celtics https://t.co/oW1F7MLT0n— WEEIprovidence (@1037WEEIFM) February 27, 2019
Coach Brad Stevens agreed with Marcus Smart’s assessment of the Celtics, saying that they need “to be more connected as a team.” After their recent loss against the Toronto Raptors, Stevens also criticized their performance on the defensive end of the floor.
“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. I thought we were really good against Milwaukee.”
Unlike what most people think before the start of the 2018-19 NBA season, conquering the Eastern Conference won’t be an easy task for the Celtics. Though LeBron James is now playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, the Celtics will still need to beat Eastern Conference powerhouse teams like the Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Milwaukee Bucks. If they are serious about becoming the new king in the East, the Celtics should do their best to address all the issues on their team before the real battle begins in the postseason.
The Celtics’ next game will be against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night at TD Garden.