Throughout this season, the Boston Celtics have been derailed by two major issues. One of them, health, is, for the most part, of out of their control. The other one, however, is something that all of us can control.
That is effort and energy.
On Sunday, our Celtics made a shorthanded .500 team look like the 2017 Warriors. Not only did the Charlotte Hornets shot over 50% from the field, but they also converted on 49% of their 3-point attempts in a 125-104 beatdown.
Sure, the Hornets made some difficult shots, but for the most part Charlotte got uncontested step-in jump shots and wide open layups.
On two different occasions in the first half Brad Stevens walked onto the court asking for a timeout before the Hornets even made the wide open layups. I can tell you from experience, when a coach does that, it means something completely caught him off guard. In this case, it was probably the fact on several possessions the Hornets looked they were in layup lines as they got to the rim completely uncontested.
For much of the Brad Stevens’ tenure the C’s have had one of the top defenses in the league, and while they still have a top 10 defense this season, they have stretches or even entire games where they look like they would rather do anything than guard somebody.
I have been a Brad Stevens supporter from day one. I am not sure any coach did more with less than Brad Stevens in his first 3 seasons with the Shamrocks. No team played harder and maximized their ability quite like those early Brad Stevens teams.
For whatever reason that has changed this season. At times, the Boston Celtics look inspired and locked in. At other times they look like uninspired and unfocused.
That was the case on Sunday afternoon.
The Hornets got whatever they wanted whenever they wanted it. As the C’s approach the postseason, regardless of who is available or not available, the Boston Celtics need to start bringing playoff level energy and effort.
Unfortunately, on Sunday the Hornets looked like they were playing a playoff game, and the Celtics looked like they were playing a preseason game. Brad Stevens has to find out what buttons to push to get his team to play with energy and effort, or the Boston Celtics will quickly find themselves fighting for the 9th seed, as opposed to the 4th seed.