The Boston Celtics are struggling to find an identity as we head toward the end of the regular season.
Jayson Tatum has been one of the team’s more inconsistent players this season, especially since returning from the All-Star break, as he mixes in All-NBA level play with incredibly frustrating shooting nights.
According to John Karalis of the Locked’ On Celtics podcast, part of the reason could be that Tatum doesn’t value the regular season in the same way he does the playoffs, and that could be down to spending some of his earlier years with Kyrie Irving and Tristian Thompson.
“I keep going back to Kyrie (Irving) and Tristan Thompson,” Karalis said, “And I swear I feel like they poisoned Tatum’s brain. I feel like those guys, at the beginning, Tatum learned from Kyrie, that the regular season doesn’t matter. You’ve learned from Tristan Thompson that the regular season doesn’t matter. And I just don’t think he puts the same value (on the regular season). I really, I honestly believe that.”
Usually, Tatum’s performance reaches a new level at this time of year, but for one reason or another, he’s regressing right when Boston needs him at his best. Take the Celtics’ March 13 loss to the Houston Rockets, for example; Tatum needed 22 shots to score 22 points while going 2-of-10 from deep against a team that had only won 15 games heading into the contest.
Jaylen Brown Drops Truth Bomb on Celtics
When speaking to the media after Boston’s latest loss, Jaylen Brown spoke of his team’s need to play with more intensity and hustle, noting how they need to put in the hard yards if they want to be successful.
“Taking care of the little things,” Brown said, “Execution. We lost tonight, not really on execution, but lack of effort, not doing our job, the hard stuff, the little stuff is what adds up. The offensive rebounds and loose balls, turnovers. We didn’t deserve to win today.”
Brown has been one of the Celtics’ most consistent players since the All-Star break, but if they want to return to contender status, they will need Tatum to rediscover his best form as soon as possible.
Joe Mazzulla is ‘Concerned’ With Celtics Play
Head coach Joe Mazzulla echoed Brown’s sentiments when speaking to the media on March 13, sharing his thoughts on his team’s inability to win the little battles throughout a game while also struggling to maintain leads.
“Those are concerning, the margins,” Mazzulla said, “The free throws, the rebounding, the turnovers, the second chances. Regardless of who you play, that’s playoff basketball at its finest. The ability to win those situations. So, it’s concerning that we’re inconsistent in that, and we have to be committed to those, regardless. Regardless of who we’re playing, regardless of the situation, regardless of how many games are left, it doesn’t matter. You have to be committed to those.”
The Celtics will now be focusing on the Minnesota Timberwolves, who they are scheduled to face on Wednesday, March 15, in the third game of their six-game road trip.