There are only a few teams in the league the Celtics could’ve beaten with the way they played on Sunday. Good thing for Boston they played one of those teams.
The Knicks’ 4-16 record speaks for itself. The Celtics are going to have off nights, but beating New York by single digits shouldn’t happen.
“I feel like we got outplayed (in) the first half. And last game we lost (to the Nets),” Jayson Tatum said on NBC Sports Boston’s Celtics Post Game. “That’s what we just talked about (at) halftime. We got to get back to having fun and competing. We weren’t playing how we normally play.”
The Celtics are still 14-5 and one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. The sky isn’t falling because they lost to the Nets and only beat the Knicks 113-104. (For a complete recap of the Celtics' win, click here.)
But this rough patch is a good test to see how everyone responds.
The Celtics had their lengthy West Coast trip. Guys are banged up (i.e. Marcus Smart, even before his abdomen injury). And teams are bringing a little extra every time they play the C’s because they’re one of the best teams in the conference.
“If there’s one thing we’re going (to) do (it) is stay positive with each other, amongst each other. Not let things affect us as a group,” Walker told reporters. “I don’t think we’re playing our best basketball as of late. So we’re just trying to stick together and that’s all we can do. It’s a long year.”
Daniel Theis has hit a rough patch. He only played seven minutes on Friday and logged 17 on Sunday. He’s been dealing with an ankle issue that could be catching up to him and impacting his decision making, which hasn’t been up to par of late.
The starters have been the primary concern over these last two games. Because Enes Kanter followed up his 10-point performance on Friday with a double-double against his old team (11 points and 11 rebounds). Brad Wanamaker finished in double figures again (11 points) and Semi Ojeleye has been much more efficient than his usual self of late (47.1 field goal percentage, 36.4% from three in the last four games).
Furthermore, Boston’s bench has been helpful on defense, which is to be expected (with the exception of Kanter). The same cannot be said of the starters. That shouldn’t be the case with Smart and Brown out there, Tatum’s ability to pick off passes and Walker being one of the best at drawing charges this season.
“I think communication, just being more positive, stuff like that (is important),” Brown said when asked what sparked Boston’s improvement on defense late on Sunday. “It’s a long season, we know that. We know we have expectations for this team, but it’s a process in doing that. You know, we’re going to make mistakes. We’re not going to be perfect every step of the way, but (if we can) be positive as a team moving forward, we’ll be fine.”
Having two days between Sunday and their next game is huge. Especially with Boston’s next opponent being the 14-5 Miami Heat.
The Celtics need to take advantage of Monday and Tuesday and reset.