Celtics show little fight in wretched loss to Cavaliers

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Celtics show little fight in wretched loss to Cavaliers

Post by bobheckler on Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:21 am


Bulpett: Celtics show little fight in wretched loss to Cavaliers

Steve Bulpett

Monday, February 12, 2018

As a writer, the first instinct after watching yesterday’s Celtic debacle — and the week of woe that preceded it — is to avoid overreacting.

But what choice does one have when the Celts fail to, you know, react?

Brad Stevens was absolutely correct when he said after Friday’s loss to Indiana that his club isn’t playing “crisply” and is “more of a shortcut-taking team than we need to be.”

But schemes and X’s and O’s and the best-laid plans of Brad and his men seem utterly inconsequential when the Celtics are getting sand kicked in their face and don’t get angry.

They trailed the Cavaliers by as many as 29 yesterday — the second time they’ve been behind by that number in the last four days and the third time in the last four games they’ve been down by 26 or more — and lost, 121-99.

The crowd that had come to celebrate the retirement of Paul Pierce’s No. 34 had little choice but to hoot on their heroes.

Stevens was asked if he was concerned about the element of fight-back.

“It’s hard to say that because the other day we were down 26 and we came back and took the lead with three minutes to go,” he said. “So I would say that (yesterday) when we got hit, we got tight offensively and we missed some shots, and now all of a sudden they’re on a run and we didn’t really have it to come back. And I didn’t put a couple of these guys back in, so I think that that’s part of it, too.

“But at the end of the day, like, you know, I don’t question the fight of this group. No. I don’t have any doubt that this group will respond when hit in the mouth generally.”


“Yeah, we stunk,” Stevens said. “They were really good. They had a lot to do with that.”

Stevens may not question the willingness to counterpunch lately, but we and others will. I can agree that this is largely out of character for this group and that there should be every expectation the Celtics will pull out of this ditch.

But it’s hard to just pass off yesterday as but another day — another mile in the marathon. At some point when the Cavaliers were gleefully rolling down the lane or sticking 3-pointers in Bostonian faces, a response would have been nice.

Walking through the hallway with Doc Rivers just after the buzzer, I suggested a hard foul or two might not have been a bad idea.

“You realize this isn’t the ’80s anymore, right?” Doc said. “They fine you for that stuff now.”

These guys can afford it. What they cannot afford is to allow bad nights to become habitual.

The Celtics thrived and took the Eastern Conference lead early on by screwing up and mounting great comebacks. They were Rocky getting energized by a few left hooks to the noggin. (OK, bad week for Philadelphia references.) They lived for a good fight.

They almost needed to be slighted before they flexed.

But yesterday they invited a full house of guests to a celebration and served them a rancid appetizer.

The Cavaliers were playing their first game with newly acquired George Hill, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Rodney Hood, and those people made them look like a whole lot better matchup for the Celts and their eager wings.

Asked if his club is now better equipped to deal with the C’s, LeBron James chose not to poke any leprechauns.

“Well, I mean, I think they’re playing better basketball than we are, you know, especially for the majority of the season,” he said after 24 points in 28 minutes. “We’ve got some work to still do. We’re just coming together. Guys don’t quite know everything that we want to do. We’ve got to have some practice time and get that, watch a lot of film.

“So we’ve got some catching up to do with not only Boston, but Toronto and Philadelphia and a lot of other teams in the Eastern Conference and the rest of the league to try to get on the page where we feel like we’re confident enough to go out and win a playoff game.”

Eight days prior, Cleveland lost at home by 32 to Houston and fell by 18 Tuesday in Orlando, precipitating its roster reshuffle.

Now it’s the Celtics wallowing in the mire, but there is no trade deadline to save them — nor would they want one. What they have is good enough to deal with times like these.

What they’re going through now is less a crisis of skill and more a question of will. They’ve answered this query before, and, if they don’t like hearing the displeasure of their own crowd, well, they should react.

MY NOTE: They played without Pride. What's worse, I'm not hearing any anger from them. At this point I'm feeling a lot more sympathetic to Marcus Smart losing it and punching a picture frame than I was. At least he showed he gives a shit about losing.


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