By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Kemba Walker is a breath of fresh air for the Boston Celtics, even after an embarrassing home loss to a pretty awful team.
The Celtics got run out of TD Garden on Wednesday night, falling to the 15-win Detroit Pistons, 116-103. Boston came out sluggish and they were never really able to right the ship. It didn’t help that they were without Jayson Tatum and were likely thinking a little bit too much about Thursday night’s matchup in Milwaukee against the NBA-leading Bucks.
Mix in the fact that the Pistons didn’t miss, shooting 60 percent from the floor and a ridiculous 76 percent from downtown, and it was an all-around bad night for the Celtics against an all-around bad team. Boston’s lackadaisical defense certainly played a part in Detroit’s ability to put just about everything into the net, and they’re well aware that they have to be a whole lot better come Thursday night.
The refreshing part of Wednesday night’s loss is that there was accountability all around in the Boston locker room afterwards. There was no finger pointing or veiled shots at each other, and no criticism of the makeup of the roster. As the leader of the team, Walker blamed himself.
“More upset about my individual play than anything right now. It starts with me, I have to be better for my teammates,” Walker said after the loss. “As one of the leaders of the team, I just have to be more energized, from the beginning of the game, and just have my guys ready to go.”
Jaylen Brown didn’t mince words either, calling out the team’s energy from the jump.
“I think that we didn’t come with the right energy, and teams are looking to beat us, man,” said Brown. “We’ve been saying that all year. And we didn’t come out with the type of aggressiveness for the game that we needed, so we lost. And that was all-around. Everybody’s got to be better.”
The Celtics haven’t had too many hiccups like Wednesday night this season, going 20-6 against teams with a record below .500. But it’s been a trend recently, with three of those losses coming over the last 10 days.
“I just feel like we got comfortable winning early and we thought that was just supposed to happen,” added Brown. “We got away from some of the things that we did to get those wins, so we’ve got to get back to being the seeker and not the seeked.”
This little midseason malaise isn’t what you want to see out from the Celtics, a team that has continually said throughout the season that they don’t have the margin for error to drop such games. They’ve lacked a killer mentality in their three recent losses to inferior opponents, as Brown pointed out. That type of attitude
Playing down to opponents is troubling, but its an issue that plagues just about every NBA team, especially this time of the season. The Lakers and Rockets both lost home games to sub-.500 teams on Wednesday night as well.
What really hurts Boston though is that the 76ers, Heat, Raptors and Pacers all won Wednesday evening, so the race for the No. 2 seed remains pretty cramped. And after letting Wednesday night’s game get away from them, the Celtics can’t afford to have another stinker in Milwaukee on Thursday.
“I think we’re going to be motivated to play [Thursday],” said Brown. “I think that we didn’t come with the right energy [against the Pistons] and teams are looking to beat us, man. We’ve been saying that all year. And we didn’t come out with the type of aggressiveness for a game that we needed, so we lost. And that was all-around. Everybody’s gotta be better.
“You just gotta want it more,” said Walker. “Especially after a loss like this, you’ve got to want to go in and do what we can to try to get a win against the best team in the league.”