So far, it’s been a road trips of tiny moments. On two stops in Florida, players’ reactions caught on camera during dead ball situations encapsulated this frustrating two-game losing streak. First, there was Marcus Morris shoving Jaylen Brown in Miami that punctuated the blowout loss to the Heat. Morris and Brown have since addressed it in the media, but on Saturday night in Orlando, it was another confrontation between a pair of higher profile Celtics that raised some eyebrows.
With three seconds left, Boston was down two points with a chance to tie or win the game. They’ve run this half court action in the past. The key is getting some initial movement away from the free throw line and towards the rim in order to free up space for a guard, in this case Kyrie Irving, to run downhill and receive the ball from the big (Al Horford). That didn't happen. Here’s the video:
Kyrie didn’t look happy after this final play in the Celtics’ loss. pic.twitter.com/lPnsjjfg1G— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 13, 2019
Hayward opted to get the ball instead to Jayson Tatum in single coverage and he missed the Kobe fall away on the baseline. Here’s Hayward on his decision to go with Tatum rather than Irving/Horford:
Gordon Hayward explains what went down in the Celtics final play of the game (Presented by https://t.co/Av8GdCiYr0) pic.twitter.com/oujXpqXNWX— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) January 13, 2019
The Celtics didn’t lose the game on that shot. They played haphazard defense against the league’s third worst offense which was a on four-game losing streak. They missed a ton of free throws and settled on several contested mid-range jumpers.
The bigger issue is whether or not the dust up between Irving and Hayward is a microcosm of what ails this team. Is it a leadership issue? Is there a pecking order? Is this just a mid-season swoon or cause for concern with Irving's impending free agency this summer? Irving dismissed the missed shot in his own Belichickian way, saying, “you know, last play happened. Let it go and we move on,” but does his initial reaction at the buzzer suggest anything else? He preached patience again in his post-game media availability, but you have to wonder if his and frankly, the team's patience is running thin.