BOSTON - After an ugly 98-86 loss to the Utah Jazz on Saturday night at TD Garden, the Boston Celtics were left in search of answers. Just 24 hours after their best offensive performance of the season, the 9-7 Celtics cashed in their worst shooting night thus far by shooting 38.5% from the field with little-to-no execution throughout. After the game, it was clear that the inconsistencies of the last month are starting to get to the locker room.
Veteran big man Al Horford bluntly stated his concern for the offense after Saturday’s loss, stating that it’s an issue they’ve been dealing with all season long. “It’s very clear,” said Horford. “There’s no way around it. It’s very, very clear that we’re concerned about shots in our offense.”
Horford added that this year’s team has yet to respond like some past teams have done. Whether it’s an identity issue or not, the Celtics’ big man knows there’s a problem. “I feel like last year’s team would have developed that identity,” Horford said. “This year, for whatever reason, it’s not happening consistently. It’s something that always needs to be there. It’s the Celtic way, the way that you want to play, and the things that you want to do and set the tone, and right now we’re picking our spots where we want to do that.”
Kyrie Irving didn’t dance around the team’s problems either, focusing on a lack of effort during Saturday night’s loss. “I think as one of the leaders on the team, we kind of expect the effort level to be a little higher, even after a back-to-back,” said Irving. ”(We) Had a pretty good shootaround. I think initially starting the game, we just weren’t in the right spots that we just went over in the game plan, and we’re hoping to execute it to limit some of their opportunities on the offensive end.”
There’s a mix of veteran leadership and young, evolving players in this locker room, and Irving was not hesitant in pointing out that dynamic. “Guys want to take advantage of their talent,” Irving said. “With that being said, 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. 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, like 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.”
The Celtics have a great opportunity to click over the next week as they face the Charlotte Hornets, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, and Dallas Mavericks.
Listen to everything Horford and Irving had to say in the locker room on Saturday night below: