By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The anger was flowing among Celtics fans on Sunday afternoon, and rightfully so. The team was blown out during a lifeless effort against the lowly Washington Wizards, the team’s second straight loss to a bottom barrel team.READ MORE: 800 Nurses At Saint Vincent Hospital In Worcester Go On Strike
There were calls for both Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens to lose their jobs. Jayson Tatum was a bum and a bust, and no one else on the team was worth a darn. The season was lost.
There is no way this Celtics team should ever get blown out by a team like the Wizards, a team with just eight wins, especially not after a wake-up call loss against the Detroit Pistons two nights prior, another team owns just eight wins on the season. So the anger was a bit warranted. But it was also a bit of an overreaction. A slump brings out the worst in fans and the Celtics were certainly slumping, with Sunday’s loss the bottom of the pit.
But now that the Celtics are back in the win column following Tuesday night’s victory over Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets, it’s OK to feel a little positivity about the team. I believe that is still allowed around these parts.
It’s important not to overreact to just one game, especially with a team that has been plagued by inconsistency throughout the season. All the good mojo built up on Tuesday could evaporate with a loss to the Hawks on Wednesday night. But sometimes, all it takes is one great team performance to turn a group around, to give them that jolt they need to go on the run they’ve needed for weeks.
The Celtics are hoping that is the case with Tuesday night’s victory.
“We need wins like that,” Jaylen Brown said after dropping a team-best 27 points in Tuesday’s 112-99 win. “Some wins against some good opponents that fire us up and things like that, because that can carry over to next games and stuff like that.”
“We are imperfect, as everyone knows,” said Stevens. “We’re just going to do our best to be as good as we can be and hopefully build off tonight.”
Tuesday night was the kind of win the Celtics have needed to remember what they should be. If they want to restore faith that they’re contenders in the East, Tuesday night is the blueprint to follow.
The ball was moving once again, as Boston dished out 28 assists on 39 made baskets. The Celtics improved to 7-1 on the season when dishing out 25 or more dimes.READ MORE: Harry And Meghan Detail Royal Struggles, From Discussions Of Baby's Skin Tone To Suicidal Thoughts
Jayson Tatum’s shooting woes continued, with the C’s star hitting just six of his 18 attempts, but he led the way with eight helpers for the evening. And despite his shot not falling, he still found a way to drop in 21 points.
The Celtics survived another off night from Tatum thanks to Brown, Kemba Walker looking like Kemba Walker again (he finished with 17 points) and contributions from anyone who touched the court. Stevens had a tight nine-man rotation for Tuesday’s game, and everyone contributed. Robert Williams had his best all-around game of the season with eight points, eight rebounds and five steals, holding his own against Jokic for times. (As much as one can hold their own against Joker, who finished with an absurd 43 points, six rebounds and five assists.) Rookie Aaron Nesmith made an impact over his 24 minutes of play, finishing with nine points, four boards and a big block (albeit one that was actually a uncalled foul) in his longest run of the season.
“I feel like the bench obviously brought great energy, but I feel like it was all around, really just positive vibes,” said Williams. “Something we’ve been talking about.”
Williams added that the Celtics picked each other up throughout the game, something that hadn’t been happening during the team’s recent 5-10 stretch.
“Not falling into selfish ways. Not falling into your own mind,” he explained. “Just staying in each other’s ears always and always promoting positivity.”
Positivity was the theme of Tuesday night’s win. Eyes weren’t rolling after turnovers and there was very little frustration/begging for fouls after misses. But the most positive development came on the defensive end, which is where the Celtics have struggled the most this season. They once again looked like a solid defensive team, with Tuesday night’s 101.0 defensive rating Boston’s best of the season against a team with a winning record. With that defensive performance, led mostly by Boston’s perimeter defense, the Celtics are now ranked eighth in the NBA with a 109.7 defensive rating for the season.
There is a lot to feel good about from Tuesday night’s win, but it is just one win. It’s important for the Celtics not to fall back into their lackadaisical ways because they beat a good team to start the week. They have two games against the Atlanta Hawks in Boston before hitting the road for a three-game trip. All the good mojo from Tuesday night could quickly evaporate if the C’s put up another stinker Wednesday or Friday night.
But if the Celtics can tap into what they did Tuesday evening, they could go on the run they’ve desperately needed for a month now. Boston has nine games ahead of the All-Star break and only one of those will be against a team with a winning record — March 2 against the Clippers at TD Garden. The Celtics haven’t looked entirely engaged against the lower teams this season, and its led to horrible performances like the ones against Detroit and Washington.
It’s time to take all of that positivity from Tuesday night’s win and carry it over, and over, and over again. The Celtics have a chance to restore faith in the squad over the next two weeks. If they want to be viewed as a contender again, and show Ainge they’re worth investing in at the trade deadline, now is the time to strike.MORE NEWS: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
If not, you have our permission to break out the pitchforks and hot takes once again.