Well, that didn't go very well. According to Sean Grande it was the first time in 40 years that the Celtics have trailed by 40 in a game. According to Adam Himmelsbach the C's have been outscored 186-124 since taking that 26 point lead on Golden State. It has been an uncharacteristic slide for a team that has shown heart and competitive fire for most of the season.
The 31-point loss marked the Celtics’ worst of the season. The C’s haven’t been blown out many times this season, as they’ve shown the ability to keep games close throughout the season. This time, though, the effort just wasn’t there, especially on the defensive end. The Celtics will not have long to dwell on their poor performance, as they host the Jazz on Wednesday night.
So how did all of this sit with the usually stoic Brad Stevens? Not so well. While you probably won't see him throwing chairs or getting into his players faces, you can read frustration from his quotes following last night's game.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens directed a rare bit of tough love toward his squad after an uninspired effort. "Everybody’s been patting them on the back for the last week," Stevens told reporters in Cleveland. "That's what happens sometimes. We have to get back to being a good team."
"It's important for it to hurt; it better hurt," Stevens said. "We'll find out a lot more about ourselves in 24 hours."
"I told them it wasn't good enough," Stevens said. "And it's not OK to walk out of here thinking that that's the best team and you have nights like this. We played individual basketball on both ends of the floor the whole night. And individual basketball against these guys doesn't work because their individuals are the best in the game. So you better figure it out that we've gotta play collectively on both ends.
Stevens is big on showing character when faced with adversity. He'll find out a lot about this team tonight against the Jazz, who ironically enough feature his star pupil Gordon Hayward.
Personally I think they'll bounce back pretty well, if only because of the level of competition. The Jazz (like the Celtics) are still a long way from being on par with one of the elite teams in the game. Looking at the schedule a week ago you could have guessed that the Celtics would have dropped games against the Warriors and Cavaliers. The way they lost them was frustrating but at the end of the day they should have lost them.
The push for the playoffs will not be decided in one or two games. It will evolve over time, and in particular over the rest of this month with several games against 8 seed competitors like Miami, Indiana, Brooklyn, Detroit, and Charlotte.
Stevens is absolutely correct to rip his team for their performance last night. He's also correct in keeping his eyes on the big picture and focusing on getting better every day. That's one of the perks of having such an even keeled coach. For those unfamiliar with boating, the term "keel" refers to the bottom of the boat which sticks out deep into the water to provide the ship stability in rough waters. That's Brad Stevens right now. The waves will come but the boat will push on through the storm.