By Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — For most of the season, the Celtics have looked like a team that just expects to win simply by taking the court. There is a real lack of motivation with the team, and an even bigger lack of ability when it comes to responding to adversity.

Head coach Brad Stevens made that crystal clear after yet another loss Wednesday night, when the Celtics got down big and came up short in a comeback bid against the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs received very little resistance from the Celtics throughout the first half, and Boston pretty much mailed it in when threes weren’t falling for them.

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Where is the motivation? It’s something the Celtics are still trying to figure out, which is bad news considering there are just 24 games left in the season. Celtics president of basketball ops. Danny Ainge said that it isn’t Stevens’ job to motivate his players — they should be able to do that themselves. He agrees that a coach playing the role of motivator is overrated, and put the team’s resiliency issues on the the guys who take the floor.

“I’m putting it on my players’ shoulders right now,” Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Thursday. “They need to look internally and they need to want it more — they need to be able to fight through adversity better. I know Brad fights through adversity. I know he’s preparing for the game and he’s respecting every opponent he sees. I don’t have any doubt about that.

“But I’m worried about some nights the way we come out to play, with somehow we’re better than opponents and therefore we don’t have to give them maximum effort,” continued Ainge. “Then there are nights like last night where we did come out to play, but adversity hits and we didn’t respond.”

Ainge has been consistent with taking his piece of the blame pie. He deserves plenty of blame for his offseason moves falling completely flat, and he takes it. But it’s time for the players to take responsibility as well.

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“When we have success it’s everyone’s success and when we have failure it’s everyone’s failure. We’re trying to think of how to get the team to best perform,” said Ainge.

Ainge added that health has been a big issue for the team, and having a different player missing from the lineup every night has led to a real lack of roster continuity. Players are having a tough time with their roles changing every night, with the guys playing beside them also changing every night.

“But having said that, effort is the one thing that should be consistent,” he added.

The Celtics play as though they can just flip a switch each and every night. That is not a reality with this team though.

“We don’t have that margin where we can play 60 percent and win,” said Ainge. “I’ve been on those teams and we’ve had some of those teams, but this team is not one that can just show up, not play with max effort and expect to win.

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“I still see our guys working and I still see them motivated,” Ainge continued. “I still like a lot of our guys in their everyday approach to the game. I just, for the life of me, it’s hard to understand how we can play so hard and so well for 32 minutes a night, and every night it’s a different time where we don’t play well. We don’t fight as hard as we need to through adversity. I just wish I had a better answer, but I don’t.” Staff