Teams knew when they played the Boston Celtics, they were going to be in for a long night.
Regardless of the opponent, the Celtics brought a feistiness to the game that gave them a shot at winning every night.
After Wednesday’s 119-93 loss at Washington, their third straight loss and second blowout defeat in a row, there are legitimate questions about whether this team still has that level of mental toughness.
WIZARDS 118, CELTICS 93:
- Blakely: Smart exactly what Celtics starting lineup needs right now
- Highlights: Washington Wizards 118, Boston Celtics 93
- Isaiah Thomas: 'We're not the hardest playing team no more'
- Celtics fall behind early, lose to Wizards, 118-93
“We’re in a funk right now,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “One thing I think is, we can’t hold our heads (down). We’re not the hardest playing team (anymore). That’s what made us good, is us playing harder than other teams, being scrappier, getting all the loose balls.
Thomas added, “rebounds don’t come to us no more because we’re not playing hard.”
That was indeed the case on Wednesday when the Wizards dominated the boards by a 54-31 margin.
And that lack of effort has nothing to do with injuries or inexperience or any other reasonable explanation as to why Boston’s defense has sunk to the bottom of the NBA landscape.
Teams want it more than the Celtics, and it’s been that way throughout most of this still-young NBA season.
Thomas said he’ll have to look at the film to see exactly what he needs to do better at, and that of his teammates.
But he has seen enough to know that they can’t turn this around until they turn up their effort and compete level.
“That’s the feeling I have right now, that we’re not the hardest-playing team and that’s what makes us special,” Thomas said. “That’s what made us win 48 games last year and made teams not really want to play against us. We don’t have that swagger anymore.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Wednesday’s game.
Otto Porter, Jr.
The Celtics had no answer for Porter who dropped 13 points in his first seven minutes on the floor. He would finish with a career-high 34 points and 14 rebounds in addition to dishing out four assists.
Thomas didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (6-for-18), but stayed aggressive most of the night. He finished with a double-double of 23 points along with 10 assists.
After a slow start shooting the ball, Smart found his rhythm in the second half and finished with 20 points off the bench.
The scoring numbers continue to look good for Bradley who had 21 points on 9-for-14 shooting. But Bradley, who came in as the team’s leader in rebounds (8.7) per game, had three boards but maybe more than anything else, didn’t make much of an impact defensively.
He finished with a near double-double with 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting with nine rebounds. His work around the glass was one of the keys to Washington putting together a dominant 33-10 advantage in second-chance points.
He had a nice scoring game with 16 points with seven assists, but turned the ball over five times. More than that, he lost his cool when the game was already in hand and it will cost him. He was ejected in the fourth quarter with 5:24 to play after fouling Marcus Smart by wrapping his arm around his head and tossing him to the floor. He’ll likely be hit with another fine for his role in the incident which came less than 24 hours after he was fined $25,000 for “inappropriate interaction with a game official.”
Brutal. Absolutely brutal. No stops. No rebounds. No chance to win, it seems. It’s hard to imagine they will play any worse than they have the last two games, but with this team anything is possible. Injuries have hurt them, obviously. But injuries aside, they should better than what we’re seeing.