BOSTON (CBS) — Usually following another Boston Celtics loss, head coach Brad Stevens will try to pull some positives out of the defeat.
If his team gave a solid effort, even for just a stretch, he’d point it out and make it a point of emphasis going forward. If someone came off the bench and brought energy to the floor, they’d get some love in the hope of boosting confidence.READ MORE: Massachusetts Reports 1,115 New COVID Cases, 23 Additional Deaths
But after Monday night’s 104-95 loss to the Charlotte Hornets at the TD Garden — a Hornets team without Al Jefferson and Lance Stephenson — Stevens was not a happy camper.
In typical Stevens fashion, the coach placed the blame on himself.
“I’ve got to figure out how to coach this team better,” said Stevens, whose Celtics are 11-21 on the season and have now dropped three straight. “I’m not doing a very good job. We’re not playing well, and we’re playing almost — it’s not good basketball. We’ve got to do a better job playing good basketball.”
When asked a short time later about setting rotations, Stevens again said he wants to focus on simply playing better basketball.
“I’ll figure out the rotations later, once we start playing good basketball and once we all are very focused on playing very good basketball. And that’s on me,” he said. “I’ve got to do a better job.”
While the second-year head coach is shouldering the blame, as he has numerous times during this dismal campaign, some of his players were also quick to take their share.
“That’s who he is,” Jared Sullinger said of Stevens. “But as a team we just have to do better.”READ MORE: House Votes To Posthumously Award Congressional Gold Medal To Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 12 Other Service Members
Sullinger, who had a team-high 22 points and eight rebounds against Charlotte, said there was too much “hero ball” on Monday night, and the Celtics need to start playing as a cohesive unit.
“It’s a natural habit for a ton of great players,” he said. “We didn’t get to this league by accident. Our natural ability comes out and we try to make that home run play. But as a team, that hurts us. And like I said, it’s not just one individual — it’s everybody. Sometimes I do it. We just have to step outside ourselves and put the team first.”
Unfortunately that “team first” mentality has not been projected very often this season. Monday night was another, glowing example.
The Celtics were a lifeless bunch right out of the gate, letting the undermanned Hornets jump out to a double-digit lead midway through the first quarter. That ballooned to 22 points before Boston started to show some life in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late. All too often, that has been the case with this year’s team.
To make matters more frustrating, for Stevens and fans alike, whenever it seems like the Celtics make slight strides towards improvement they follow it up by taking multiple steps back. Stevens praised his team for a gutsy overtime effort against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night, but any progress the team showed in that contest quickly dissipated with Monday’s dud.
So now, as the losses continue to pile up, it’s back to the drawing board for Stevens. It’s a constant battle to find a rotation that works, given the constant flux of their current roster, but it’s a battle that everyone needs to help with.
He’s been more than willing to step up and take it, but the blame for the product on the court can’t fall solely on Stevens. It’s up to the players to take their part of the blame, and respond with some consistency on the floor.MORE NEWS: FDA Panel Votes To Back Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine For Kids 5-To-11
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