BOSTON (CBS) — No one had much fun watching the 2018-19 Boston Celtics, who finished off one of the more disappointing seasons in the franchise’s history by losing four straight to the Milwaukee Bucks in the East semis.
That’s not the finish anyone was predicting when the season began, as most picked the Celtics to win the Eastern Conference and give the Warriors a run for their money in the NBA Finals. Instead, fans were treated to a roller coaster that featured more infighting than signature wins during a 49-win regular season.
To make the failures of the team even worse, the Celtics weren’t a particularly likable group. And that’s not just from a fan’s perspective; owner Wyc Grousbeck admitted as much on Wednesday.
“It was one of the hardest teams to love, from my standpoint,” Grousbeck told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Felger & Massarotti on Wednesday. “Just to answer for myself. I wasn’t coaching them but I was watching them. It was frustrating. It was a tough year for everybody concerned. I think the fans all feel that. We’re going to try to make it better. We all feel that. The highs and lows — it just has been frustrating.”
Chemistry was the main issue that plagued Boston throughout the season, and led to some wildly inconsistent effort and an uninspiring brand of basketball.
“It didn’t mesh together,” Grousbeck said. “It was like a really great car, but it just wasn’t quite assembled or didn’t quite run the way you would think it would run. It was pretty frustrating because we had a lot of potential and we showed it at times. Other times it just fell apart.”
Grousbeck said it’s not easy to predict such issues before the season gets underway, and he was shocked at what he saw from the Celtics on a night-to-night basis.
“You can’t really say beforehand that it’s going to work or not, so we didn’t know going in that we were going to have a chemistry problem,” he said. “In fact, we had good chemistry in the playoffs last year. It looked like things were working, then we added more players to the mix; Gordon [Hayward] getting healthier and Kyrie [Irving] getting healthier coming back from two knee surgeries. We thought it would work better than it did.
“It’s not like we said, ‘The hell with chemistry, we know this was a mess but we’re going to try to get out of it with talent’. We didn’t know it was a mess,” he continued. “It turned out to be, at times, really good, and at times, more of a mess.”
There will be changes after such a disappointing campaign, but Grousbeck made it clear that Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens are going nowhere. The Boston braintrust has already begun discussing their roster, with some tough decisions ahead this summer to avoid a repeat.
“We’ve got some layups, and we’ve got some 3-point shots and we’ve got a half court shot or two to try to hit,” he said. “There’s some easy decisions and there’s some harder decisions and we’re actually going to have to take the time to decide in a sense what the roster looks like.”
Grousbeck wouldn’t comment on Kyrie Irving’s future with the team, but urged fans not to believe everything they read online, saying half of the “rumors” out there are made up to push someone else’s agenda. He didn’t want to discuss any individual players during the 20-minute interview, but if one thing is clear, the owner is not happy with what he saw on the floor during the 2018-19 season.