BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics suffered a second straight head-scratching defeat, losing 123-112 to the Los Angeles Clippers after leading by as many as 28 points.
But the factors leading up to the loss and the emotionless reaction by most players afterwards, speaks to what may be a much larger issue looming inside the Celtics locker room that could torpedo their hopes of making a deep postseason run.
Marcus Morris said the Celtics have not been having fun for a while, even as the wins piled up and they climbed their way back into the upper echelon of teams in the East.
“I watch all these other teams in the league, they’re jumping on the court, all the stuff that looks like they’re enjoying their teammates’ success,” said Morris, who added, “And they’re playing together, and they're playing to win. When I look at us I see a bunch of individuals.”
Morris’ comments come on the heels of Boston (35-21) having lost two straight with the bigger picture being the Celtics winning 10 of its last 13 games which has allowed them to climb up a couple spots to the No. 3 seed in the East.
So I asked him, what has to change?
“The goal has to be to win; the bottom line,” he said. “We have to play to win. That’s sacrificing, playing hard; that’s sacrificing, being a better teammate. That’s sacrificing, whatever it is we have to put it to the side. No one’s getting traded. The trade deadline is over. We’re competing for a championship and that’s how we have to approach the game. Win, lose or draw, you’re gonna lose games. But we don’t have no attitude, we don’t have no toughness. We ain’t having fun. It’s gonna be a long season.”
☘️CLIPPERS 123, CELTICS 112
Actually, it’s not going to be that long if their effort, focus and attention to detail remains as sporadic as it has been for most of this season.
Following Saturday’s loss, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens alluded to some potential changes he might look to make in order to address those wickedly poor stretches of play this team tends to experience in the second and third quarters of games.
“I need to go back and look at what I can do to help us manage those minutes better,” Stevens said.
Morris will leave that up to Stevens to decide what’s the best course of action as far as any potential changes.
But he said on multiple occasions that he’s on board with whatever changes have to be made in order for this team to get back to winning games and having fun in the process.
“If he wants to take me out of the starting lineup, get some juice in there, I’m with it,” Morris said. “But I’m trying to win; that’s the main goal. The trade deadline is over. This is the team we’re rockin’ with. At the end of the day, it’s unacceptable what we did tonight, very unacceptable for a team of our caliber.”
While Saturday’s loss may have been the catalyst to Morris’ comments, he made it clear that this has been an issue within the locker room for some time now, even in stretches in which they were winning games.
“It’s been a little minute,” he said when asked about how long has this particular issue been going on. “We had talks about it. For us to be a championship team, that has to change. Win … that has to be the first goal. Whatever that takes, I’m with it.”
Up next for the Celtics will be a road test at the revamped Philadelphia 76ers, a team that’s fighting for the No. 3 spot along with Boston whose roster was upgraded at the trade deadline with a couple of additions headlined by Tobias Harris.
Boston has shown a knack for rising to the level of elite competition, so the facing the Sixers comes on time, right?
“It’s not about one game, it’s not about two games,” Morris said. “It’s about this entire experience. We have a great team. We have a lot of names, a great team. But if it’s not fun, not together, then how can we win? I’ve never seen a team not having fun, bonding well on the court, win a championship. If the goal is to win a championship, that has to change first.”
But is this team capable of making that change?
Morris believes they can, “but you have to start … gotta start somewhere,” he said.
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