Brad Stevens: "This will be a good stretch when we look back on it, because it will force improvement. It'll force urgency on every detail. It'll force you to do your job for 48 minutes."— Marc D'Amico (@Marc_DAmico) January 19, 2020
The Brad Stevens quotes machine is on a loop. It’s not exactly lying to us, but it’s not making us feel any better either.
Failure is typically the source for improvement and innovation. The thing is, it felt like we already saw the improvement. For this team to improve, regress, and then say “we can improve!” isn’t very encouraging if the next step is square one.
On the bright side, at least we know square one is attainable.
Tatum: We are taking shortcuts at times and aren’t playing our system.— Brian Robb (@BrianTRobb) January 19, 2020
Brad Stevens echoed this sentiment as well, which, at the very least, is a display of self-awareness for these guys. The “shortcut,”the way I see it, is taking the shot you want but not putting in the work to get it. The shots they missed early tonight are the ones that go in when the ball flies from side to side. Seeing the ball move and getting everyone involved just feels better, does it not?
Tatum: “We have to come out with more energy.”— Brian Robb (@BrianTRobb) January 19, 2020
This does not appear to be a self-correcting problem. For years, I’ve looked at Marcus Smart as the team motivator. And yet, for all the weight he carries, it doesn’t seem to rub off on his teammates. It’s not his fault, but I think it’s time we look beyond the idea that Smart alone can be the spark plug that gets his teammates locked in. I’m not sure another human presence can do that. The common thread with these slows starts is that they seem to affect the young players the most.
Guys like Grant Williams, Tatum, and Smart, who seem wise beyond their years, are often praised for “letting the game come to them” because it really is remarkable how much of the game comes naturally to them. This ideology of “do the right thing and the opportunities will come to you” is getting old real quick, however. Not because of the current streak, but this era as a whole. How about the Celtics come out and just start throwing haymakers? It’s easier said than done, but I’m honestly at a loss trying to understand how the last two minutes of these games are completely opposite to the previous 46.
Jayson Tatum: "We gotta come out with more energy. The same intensity the way we play when we're trying to comeback and we should be fine."— Clevis Murray (@ClevisMurray) January 19, 2020
And it all starts with defense:
Marcus Smart on the defense: “It’s like we don’t even know what we’re doing out there, and that’s a problem.”— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) January 19, 2020
Honestly, I’m too exhausted for the Enes Kanter dialogue after yesterday’s loss to the Suns. It’s sloppy all around. Even Smart needs a kick in the rear before he really pressures the ball. Everybody has missed their share of closeouts on perimeter shots. Here’s a positive though: Tremont Waters looks good. And all I’ll say about that is trading two players for one would open up a roster spot for him. That’s all.