The Boston Celtics just can’t seem to figure things out.
Fresh off a loss to the Charlotte Hornets, the C’s returned home to face a 4-14 New York Knicks team that had lost six games in a row. But what felt like the perfect recipe for a get-right game turned into another head-scratching night for the Celtics and their fans.
New York jumped out to a 26-point lead midway through the second quarter, as Boston struggled to get into an offensive flow and gave up a number of open looks to Trey Burke, Kevin Knox and the rest of the Knicks.
It was the eighth time in their last nine games the Celtics had fallen into a double-digit hole, and once again they came storming back, cutting the lead to three with under a minute to play. But it was too little too late for the C’s, as the Knicks won 117-109 to hand Boston its third straight loss and drop the Celtics to 9-9 on the season.
Head coach Brad Stevens has been searching for answers for some time now, changing the starting lineup before the game against the Hornets and furiously mixing lineups throughout games to try and find a combination that works.
But if you ask Stevens, it might be more simple than making open shots or taking time to jell. Perhaps Boston just isn’t all it was cracked up to be.
“I just don’t know that we’re that good,” Stevens said, as seen on NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage. “It’s not a wakeup call if you keep getting beat. We have to play better. And it’s not because we’re not capable of being good, it’s not because we weren’t good at one time in our lives. You’re good if you play good, and, I mean the results are speaking for themselves.”
Sitting at .500 with almost a quarter of the season gone, Boston has failed to live up to the immense hype that surrounded it entering the season. Kyrie Irving is aware the Celtics can’t wait around for things to magically come together, and the time is now to right the ship.
“We just can’t wait anymore, honestly,” Irving said after the game. “You know for myself, everyone else as a collective, our coaching staff, we don’t have time to really be waiting and to kind of see if guys are going to give that extra effort, including myself. It’s just an accountability standpoint that we all have to have, and I think that we are making steps in the right direction, you know, I just think that it’s just tiring at this point when we show flashes of brilliance and then we put ourselves in this deep hole and we’re consistently coming back and we can’t play like that.
“I think at this point, it’s just tiring,” Irving continued. “It’s just no more time to wait. It’s not that I’m pushing the panic button or anything like that, I just think there’s no more time to wait for games to start off like that and go down in a hole where even our home crowd is getting antsy and guys are pressing and stuff like that.”
Boston now has lost six of its last 10 games and has been unable to find an offensive rhythm yet this season. With the Eastern Conference being much-improved, the Celtics must heed their star’s advice and begin to execute like the championship-caliber team they are supposed to be.
The time for waiting is over.
Here are more notes from Celtics-Knicks:
— One bright stop from Boston’s loss to the Knicks was the play of Gordon Hayward. The veteran forward had one of his best games of the season, scoring a season-high 19 points on 6 of 14 shooting. While it certainly was a step in the right direction, Hayward knows he has a lot more to offer.
“I think it was a step tonight, but ultimately, I just have so much more that I can give to the team,” Hayward said, as seen on NBC Sports Boston. “It’s still not all the way there yet. It’s frustrating seeing shots go in and out, or watching film and seeing how I could be more aggressive or do things like that.”
— Irving scored 22 points and dished out 13 assists Wednesday to become the first Celtics player since Rajon Rondo in 2011 to record back-to-back games with 20 points and 10 assists.
— Irving has notched three double-doubles in Boston’s last four games. He had zero in his first 13.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
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