BOSTON – There weren’t many Celtics players who showed up for the postgame scrum with the media following the 129-119 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.
That’s not surprising.
There weren’t that many who showed up to play, anyway.
Some will chalk it up to just being a bad game for the Celtics, while others might point to the absence of Marcus Smart finally catching up to them.
The reasons for the loss are all over the map, but the one thing we know is this: the Celtics got punked by the Clippers, pure and simple.
L.A. got whatever shot it wanted and attacked the paint at will to escape with a 10-point win in a game that wasn’t that close in terms of control.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been sounding an alarm of concern most of this season.
“I think teams have outplayed us,” Stevens said after the disappointing loss prior to the All-Star break. “You know I don’t think – I’ve said all along, I don’t think we were all we were cracked up to be during our 16-game winning streak, and it’s probably hit us more in the last month than it hit us before, and teams have outplayed us, good teams have outplayed us; that was the case again tonight.”
Maybe Stevens is right.
Maybe the Celtics aren’t as good as their 40-19 record might indicate.
Those of us who see the resilient fight, the never-say-it’s-over brand of basketball that has become synonymous with the Celtics for most of this season, are indeed searching for answers as to how a team that was so dominant defensively, has fallen off so quickly with no clear-cut signs of improvement.
The 129 points they gave up to the Clippers was a season-high.
The previous high?
That was just three days earlier when the Celtics lost 121-99 to the Cavaliers.
So, for those keeping score at home, Boston has given up 121 points or more in each of their past two games after having failed to give up that many in the Celtics’ previous 57 games.
“I think that the theme here is our defense needs to be better,” Horford said. “We’re a group that we’ve built what we have so far based on the defensive end and we’ve taken a big step back on that, it’s obvious, the past few games.”
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And while the Celtics have plenty of time to get back on track, you can bank on this All-Star break providing the players with time to heal, both mentally and physically.
“There’s two main things that you can control in this game,” said Kyrie Irving. “And that’s attitude and effort and if you’re not doing that at a very high level and staying poised and trying to make the best decisions for the team, you know it’s hard to play against. [There are] great teams in this league, so that’s definitely a point of emphasis for our team going forward.”