BOSTON — After the Celtics wrapped up a brief road trip Wednesday night with a 118-92 blowout loss to the playoff-bound Washington Wizards, Avery Bradley held court in the locker room with reporters.
A strained Achilles had sidelined Bradley for the beatdown that had just unfolded at the Verizon Center. The shooting guard remains day-to-day with the injury for the time being. As Bradley fielded questions about his status postgame, his friend and teammate Jeff Green whispered something into his ear with a smile.
Bradley was not amused by whatever statement Green whispered into his ear as the cameras rolled. The same can also be said for his opinion of the Celtics’ performance against Washington.
“It was real hard [to watch],” he said. “It’s frustrating watching us play the way we played. That definitely was not Celtics basketball at all. It was kind of embarrassing.”
There was a long list of embarrassing performances by the Celtics Wednesday night. Kris Humphries was benched by Brad Stevens during the first half after playing just three minutes as Marcin Gortat scored on him at will after the opening tip. Rajon Rondo tied a season-high with seven turnovers in just 32 minutes of action. Jeff Green missed 10 of his 13 shots and snagged just one board despite being on the floor for 32 minutes.
Boston’s defense also re-wrote the team’s record books in a negative way. The Wizards shot a scorching hot 62.5 percent from the field on the night, a season-high mark for them. It was also the highest field goal percentage Boston has allowed in a game since December 2003, as Sports Hub play-by-play man Sean Grande pointed out.
The lack of intensity exhibited in that defensive performance was telling, particularly during Brad Stevens’ postgame press conference.
“We just didn’t provide enough,” Stevens said. “We got what we deserved. For the most part, in the last month we’ve played, every other game I felt like we were in and we competed. Tonight, I did not.”
Overall, it was Boston’s 11th straight road loss and 11th loss in their last 12 games overall. Prior to this point, Stevens had been able to steer a team lacking talent at several positions into competitive games most nights, but the no-show against the Wizards raises questions about what kind of finish we will see from the Celtics over the final couple weeks of the season.
With a number of veterans in the starting lineup already signed through next season in Bass and Rondo there is less inclination for them to give the kind of effort Boston needs on both ends to remain competitive. If Stevens wants to shake things up, he could insert thriving youngsters with more to play for into the starting fold. Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger, and Chris Johnson remain hungry, with Johnson particularly playing for a spot on the roster next year.
Stevens would risk alienating his veterans with any kind of starting switch, but that’s the kind of move that might be needed to maintain the team’s effort down the stretch. It’s something to keep an eye on as the lowly Sixers come to town Friday night. Will Stevens give the starters another chance to rebound? We’ll find out then.
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