TORONTO The damage had been done, in an unexpectedly decisive fashion.
Boston, 74. Toronto, 86.
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers had said all that he had to say. He left the players in the bowels of the visiting locker room to themselves while the coaches convened outside. They could vent, scream, yell, do whatever they wanted to do.
But make no mistake about it.
The message had been delivered.
If the Celtics are to get out of this two-game malaise they're in now, in that room, at that moment, were the answers to their problems.
Their first shot at getting on track comes Sunday afternoon against the Chicago Bulls, hands-down the best team in the Eastern Conference. With or without reigning league MVP Derrick Rose available (he's questionable with a back injury), Chicago has proven they can win - and win big.
But the Celtics' biggest foe these days isn't the fellas at the other end of the gym. It's the guys in that room, at that moment, who will continue to search for the answers that, to a man, they know are literally in front of them.
"We need to be us, be consistent every night," Boston's Avery Bradley told CSNNE.com of the general mood among the players inside the locker room following the loss. "We need to know what we're doing on offense, know what we're doing on defense. And we just need to be more consistent and play the same every night."
Far too often against Toronto, and to a certain extent against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, there were plays when it was clear that at least one Celtic player was thinking one thing, while his teammate was looking for something else.
That's focus, or something," Rivers said. "We have to fix that."
It won't be easy.
Breaking down video of ways to improve will help.
Extending the amount of the time in shoot-around to make it almost like a pseudo-practice, would benefit the Celtics as well.
More than anything, they have play smarter, play with more passion, more pride, more purpose and less passivity.
In other words, play more like a Celtic.