Marshall Bruce Mathers III once uttered a famous phrase that empathizes with what most Boston Celtics fans are feeling in this moment: “snap back to reality.”
Boston was on a three-game win streak going into their bout with Philly, hoping to win four in a row for the first time this season. That did not happen, and it might truly be back to reality for the Celtics. They now sit at 21-22, good for 11th in the Eastern Conference.
However, despite the ire of any and all fans in the 617, head coach Ime Udoka stayed oddly positive throughout his postgame press conference.
“Overall, a slow start obviously doomed us there. Just weren’t sharp on both ends of the court. But I look at it more as an aberration of the norm. We’ve been competitive in most games. When we don’t score, we still defend at the proper level. Was a little bit off tonight, but it happens in the NBA at times.”
After a loss, and even some unfavorable wins, Udoka often spends his postgame interviews explaining things from a basketball perspective. He dives into the nitty-gritty of what went wrong, which players missed assignments, and other details like that.
And while there was certainly some of that on Friday night, there was a different mood in the room. Udoka even moved some of the blame onto his own plate.
“We’ve got to do a better job of getting our guys ready to play against a tough opponent. A rival. They’re [Philadelphia] obviously coming in off a loss, played a little harder than we did. It’s on me.”
Instead of focusing on the bad, Udoka made it clear that he felt this loss was an outlier. The last time the Celtics lost by a double-digit margin was back on December 10 in a 21-point loss to the Phoenix Suns. Boston’s rookie head coach even doubled down on the notion that this really isn’t a common theme for the C’s.
“As I said, we’ve been really competitive this year, and that’s not the norm with us… Even the games when we have poor shooting starts, we’re still defending well. I look at it more like that. Obviously, you want to play well every night. This was the opposite of what we’ve done the last few games.”
His statement about Boston’s defense is true. Since the aforementioned blowout loss to Phoenix, the C’s are sixth in the NBA in defensive rating (106.6). They’re also sixth in DRTG for the entire season (107.0). Unfortunately, the part about the offense struggling also rings true, as the C’s are 23rd in offensive rating on the year (108.4).
But again, instead of honing in on all the Celtics did wrong against Philadelphia, Udoka chose to look at the bright side.
“But look at the positives. Saw some of our guys, ran some zone, and some different things we took a look at. You have to look at those and kind of scratch it as a one-off in my opinion, because we haven’t had many of these this year.”
One-off or not, the Celtics won’t have much time to dwell on the loss. Boston’s loss to the 76ers was just night one of a torturous back-to-back, and the Chicago Bulls are waiting for them on the other side of night one.