The Boston Celtics continued their road trip with a stop in Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder. After a frustrating offensive performance against Denver on Sunday, Boston needed to get their groove back. Shortly before the game, OKC announced that star Shai guard Gilgeous-Alexander was out for the night (non-COVID illness).
In a game where the Celtics should have won handily, they seemed unprepared to handle the Thunder and were flat out outhustled and outplayed as OKC ran away with a 150-117 win on Tuesday night. It was one of the worst losses in Celtics franchise history, and without question one of the most disheartening games this season. From a viewer’s perspective, it looked like the Celtics weren’t bringing their best effort, and it made all the difference against a young and hungry Thunder team.
“We got our a** kicked, that’s what happened,” said star Jaylen Brown after the game. “You come out, you take it for granted, and that’s what happens. We probably had it coming to us. We came out the last couple of games, we pick and choose when we want to play, and we weren’t connected. Didn’t have each other’s back out there, no help side defense, we didn’t guard our yard. Those young boys over there came out and they made us look bad and they embarrassed us. They kicked our a**, that’s what happened.”
Boston has been in a rough patch going as far back as their loss to Golden State in December. After barreling through teams for the beginning of the season, it seemed that the Warriors gave the blueprint on how to beat the Celtics; as soon as there was regression from three point range by most of the roster, Boston couldn’t shoot themselves out of situations. The team’s losses to OKC and Denver highlight the need for the team to play harder on the defensive end to make things easier on offense, which is the approach that got them to the NBA Finals last year.
“You respond, you’re not supposed to let that happen,” said Brown on teams trying to come out and embarrass the Celtics. “Whatever that means, whatever you’ve got to do, you can’t let that happen. It just seemed like for whatever reason today, we let go of the rope completely, which I haven’t seen from our team in a long long time. So, whatever we’ve got to do to figure it out, to get back on track, let’s get all back on board. But I haven’t seen us let go of the rope like that, so in a sense, it’s opportunistic. It’s a perfect time to respond. I think that something like that, we had coming to us. We’ll see how the next game goes.”
While Boston’s performance is concerning, the leadership of Brown and Tatum has shown through during these tough stretches. There’s a level of ownership from the star duo we hadn’t seen until later last season, and a desire to figure things out by any means necessary. When it came down to why they lost, Brown hadn’t hesitated to speak his mind to hold himself and the team accountable.
“It’s just a maturity mindset thing,” said Brown on the team’s loss. “You can’t come out and expect teams to just give it to you, and we’ve been saying ‘You’ve got to expect team’s best shot’, of course. So that’s exactly what’s happening, teams are coming out, they’re ready. they’re amped to play, and we’re thinking we’re just gonna stroll out and just figure it out down the line from A to Z. It just seemed like from the top of our roster to the bottom of our roster, everybody was bad. It wasn’t just like some of us, it just seemed like everybody was off tonight. But perfect time to always get back on track, watch the film, get back to feeling good about ourselves, and come out and play hard against Dallas.”
The Celtics will take on Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night on the road, 7:30PM EST tipoff.