NEW YORK - Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said on Monday morning that the team simply needs to “play better basketball,” following two straight losses to the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic. He wasn’t completely discouraged however, as he added that their Saturday night loss was one of their better defensive efforts in a long time.
“Sense of urgency wasn’t our issue the other night,” said Stevens. “We played really hard. We got beat. The reality is you have to play hard and well, and we didn’t play well for the whole game. But we played really hard. It was our best defensive game we’ve had in a long time as far as how we wanted to be. We had few mistakes on defense from a transition standpoint. We lost some cutters on the back side, but our pick-and-roll defense was the best it’s been in a long time. ... Our haphazard offense got us in trouble. We turned it over and we didn’t respond to their runs. Their run became a 10-0 run instead of a 10-4 run. That’s where you get beat.”
Orlando turned around and defeated the Houston Rockets on Sunday night at Amway Center, proving once again that they are a difficult matchup for any team in the league. Stevens reiterated this on Monday. “Orlando, as they proved again last night, you have to play a full 48. You have to play a complete game to win.”
Thursday’s loss to the Miami seemed to cause Stevens a little more stress, as he didn’t seem pleased with his team’s performance on night two of their most recent back-to-back.
“I don’t think it’s as much of an urgency thing,” added Stevens. “I didn’t think we played great in Miami, but I think it was more of a, we need to play better basketball.”
In terms of expectations, Stevens had this to say:
“You always have high expectations for your group. Last year, they may not have been what everybody else on the outside thought, once we had those injuries, but within the walls, we were super disappointed we didn’t win that last game to go to the Finals. Ultimately it’s about how you play and how you come together. How you do things together. It’s about how you empower each other. It’s about playing your best basketball. It takes a lot of teams a long time to get there. Some teams never get there. We’ll see if this team does, from a consistent basis. But, we’ve shown that we have a chance, so that’s good.”
The Celtics take on the Brooklyn Nets tonight at Barclays Center at 7:30 PM EST.