BOSTON — The CelticsIn the past, we have been a team of nearly. AlmostYou are good enough to compete in the N.B.A. championship. AlmostThey are mature enough for their full potential. AlmostComplete enough to be able to play at a high standard on a regular basis.
ButA lot of almosts would be a good alternative to all the questions and concerns. CelticsAt the beginning of each season, I began to collect. It is never much fun when each game feels like a litmus test — of Ime Udoka’s first season as the team’s coach, of the chemistry experiment between Jayson TatumAnd Jaylen Brown- of the growth and development of those around them.
SoWhen Marcus Smart, the team’s starting point guard, criticized TatumAnd BrownYou basically take the ball away from the team after a loss. Chicago BullsOn Nov. 1, BostonThere was a danger that the system would fall into pre-disorder.
SinceBut, then, something unexpected happened: The CelticsThey have won three out of four games and are now among the top sub-.500 teams within the N.B.A. before they face the defending champion Milwaukee BucksOn Friday night.
“I think we’ve jelled to some extent,” Udoka said, adding, “We’re learning the intensity and effort it takes to win every night.”
The CelticsBy defeating the, he improved his record to 5-6 Toronto Raptors, 104-88 WednesdayThey are now scoring, rebounding, defending and winning. ForYou are someone I like UdokaIt could not have come soon enough for a new employee, who is only a few months into his high-profile job. StrangeBut it is true: The Celtics’ victory over the RaptorsIt was their first home win of this season. TheNow, the challenge is to maintain that momentum.
“I don’t think anybody in the locker room is getting antsy about the losses,” the reserve guard Josh Richardson said. “JustWe are all trying to move forward. I think we’re all starting to find our footing.”
ThereThese were growing pains. InTheir home opener was on Oct. 22 CelticsIn a 32-point loss at the The, they sucked it up. RaptorsThey were effectively booed from the court. ItA young team, many believe bound for the draft lottery, suffered a huge blowout. But Scottie BarnesThe Raptors’ first-yearForward, has been a revelation, and he looked like the best player on the court. Udoka bemoaned his team’s lack of effort.
Sadly for BostonThat game was no anomaly. AtThe start of NovemberIt seemed like things had come to an end when the BullsAfter trailing by as much as 19 points, he outscored them CelticsIn the fourth quarter, by 39-11. This is a win of 14 points. Afterward, SmartAppelled out BrownAnd TatumAt a news conference. ItIt is not a secret. SmartIt was stated at the time that opponents were focusing their defenses on these two players, particularly in late-game situations. The problem?
“They don’t want to pass the ball,” Smart said.
BrownAnd TatumThey were not thrilled with the result SmartHe made his observations public. It was a players-only meeting that ensued, which is rarely a good sign. ExceptThe CelticsThen, he won two consecutive games before concluding a three-game road trip by losing narrowly to the Dallas MavericksOn Saturday — a game that BrownYou missed the game because of a hamstring injury. StillOn Wednesday morning, BrownThe feeling of optimism that they felt was rare was expressed.
“The spirit of this team is different,” he said, “and we’re going to continue to just keep pushing. I feel it. I think that things will turn around for sure.”
UdokaIt was also said before Wednesday’s game that his team was finding its identity, a bit of coach-speak that would have had a short shelf life with another uneven performance.
ButIn their rematch against the RaptorsThe CelticsHalftime saw a 16 point lead and the team cruised to victory. TheyIt was possible without BrownWithout a skilled shooting night, he was again left out TatumThe final score was 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists by, who was 8 out of 24 from the field. AllFive starters scored more than 10 points. Richardson15 points scored on the bench.
Robert Williams III, the team’s starting center, said BostonThe veterans organized a series of team dinners and placed a greater emphasis upon communication during practice, which helped to build more cohesion.
“I feel like we’re bonding, finding stuff out about each other,” he said.
The CelticsThey have appeared in seven consecutive postseason appearances, three of which were to the Olympics. Eastern Conferencefinals, last updated in 2020. ButAfter the team managed a record of 36-36 last season, they lost to the NetsIn the first round, Brad StevensTo move to the front desk, he quit his coaching position and was replaced by a bench seat. Udoka.
AndThe CelticsWhile they were a perennial playoff team their roster has not been static. TheyFor example, I have cycled through a variety of starting point guards. Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker. This season, SmartThe point was manned by Dennis Schroder — one of the team’s big off-season signings — also supplying heavy minutes.
The team’s rotations remain a work in progress for UdokaHe was aware that there would be growing pains and was ready to adjust as necessary. ConsiderAt least in the first season, he seemed determined to get his defenders to switch to screens. HeIt has become more flexible based on matchups.
“We’re mixing up some coverages,” he said. “We found out what the guys do better than we did in the preseason, and I think, as coaches, we’ve learned as well.”
AsFor SmartHe didn’t seem to care about rehashing his comments. TatumAnd Brown after Wednesday’s win. When asked about the players-only meeting and what the past few days had been like for him, he said, “We had a great game.”
He added, “We’ve been playing very well.”
InThe end may be all that matters.
Source: NY Times