By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Letting a 28-point lead slip away against the Los Angeles Clippers over the weekend was a new low point for the Boston Celtics. After that disappointing loss, veteran forward Marcus Morris aired his grievances with reporters, saying the team hasn’t been having much fun all season while also calling out his teammates for having a lackluster attitude overall.
Those are not the comments you want to hear about a team that many crowned Eastern Conference champs before the season started, but on Monday, many of the Celtics said they were comments that needed to be made. Morris said he probably should have kept his thoughts in-house, but added that just about everyone agreed with what he had to say about the 2018-19 Boston Celtics.
“You guys caught me at a good time. I was hot,” Morris told reporters following Monday’s practice in Brighton. “I spoke words real. I didn’t take it out of context or point anyone out. We just have to enjoy this process.”
While we likely won’t be seeing the team gather around for nightly renditions of Kumbaya after each game or practice, Morris said he believes his teammates took his message the right way.
“Guys, we watched films and clips and guys understood what I was saying. Being a championship caliber team, you have to buy in and enjoy what is going on. Those top teams, they seem like they’re enjoying what is going on win, lose or draw. We’re going to have ups and downs, but we have to have fun with it,” he said. “To me, it was just speaking real. I’m not really about to B.S. stuff. I want to win a championship. I understand what it takes to get there, basically every day. I think that’s why my teammates, they definitely accepted it, because they see that I’m a guy who comes in here and I put my hard hat on and come to work and I’m passionate about it. I don’t know no other way. To be in this position, to have a chance to compete for something like that, you know, it means a lot to me. Because you don’t get this opportunity at all in this league. Eight years I’ve been in the league, I never even thought I could win a championship with the teams I was on, and this team I feel a lot different about. I just want to push us to that position.”
The Celtics had won 10 of their last 11 before dropping back-to-back games to the Lakers and Clippers — both on their home floor. That’s kind of their season in a nutshell; make some positive strides only to stumble back to square one in glorious fashion. It’s led to a handful of “team meetings” and a number of players speaking out, though neither have necessarily translated into winning or a cohesive brand of basketball.
On Monday, Stevens said he is OK with players questioning the team as long as they put their name to it. And when it comes to Morris’ critiques over the weekend, it’s hard to argue with a lot of what was said.
“One of the things that we say at the beginning of the year is we don’t want to be a team quoted of unnamed sources. If you’re going to say something you have to put your name next to it. Marcus’ frustrations were obvious and evident, and you know what, in a lot of ways I thought he said a lot of stuff you can’t really argue in the last two games,” said Stevens. “We have to be a lot better than we were finishing games and handling adverse situations in games.
“If you’re super connected as a team and you play with great physical effort all the time, then it’s fun as hell. When you go back and forth, then it’s not as fun,” added Stevens. “Fun, to me, is doing your job well at a high level over and over.”
Stevens said this Celtics team does like each other and they have certainly had fun this season. There were issues earlier in the campaign about playing time and who was starting and who was coming off the bench, but those subsided long ago.
But losing back-to-back games, in the fashion the Celtics dropped them, would put a damper on any positive stretch the Celtics were riding.
“I don’t lose sleep at night over results or us not saying it’s fun. It’s a matter of not doing things the way we need to do them, that’s what I’m losing sleep over. To me, it’s about what this town deserves, and they deserve a team that plays with great effort and team-ness,” he said. “I think when you lose, it’s not fun. …. When you lose big leads and you’re getting booed — rightfully so — off the court, it’s not like, ‘Hey, man, that was awesome.’ That sucks. It’s not fun. So, whatever. Play well.”
Veteran forward Al Horford hopes Morris’ comments are the wake-up call the Celtics have needed.
“As good as we’ve been playing, we got to put things into perspective. I felt like we’ve been playing good basketball and the past two games have not been what we want to be,” he said. “I do feel like when we’re playing like we need to play, our team clicks great. We just need to stick together. It’s frustrating for us; we don’t want to be losing. We’re going to figure it out.”
Horford said dropping two straight has been a step back, but he believes they’ll make the Celtics better in the end. Unfortunately, we’ve heard that a handful of times throughout the season, and here we are again, on February 11, still waiting for the team to put it all together.