It was another loss for the Boston Celtics (9-7) last night as they fell to the Utah Jazz (8-8) 98-86 on their home floor. It was a contest that Boston was never in as they drop their fifth game out of eight. Celtics star Kyrie Irving lead the scoring for the green with 20 points, but it wasn’t enough to secure the victory. Utah sophomore phenom Donovan Mitchell had a game high 28 points and six assists to beat Boston for the second time in under ten days.
Frustration was apparent for the Celtics from the beginning as they could not ride the momentum of beating the Toronto Raptors one night earlier in overtime. A game that was one of their most entertaining of the season so far. Head coach Brad Stevens broke his usual reserved nature to send a message to his team after the loss.
“We have to build a tougher mindset than we have,” Stevens said. “I mean, we just don’t have that mindset yet that we need.”
“You know, I had an old friend (Paul Patterson: coach at Taylor University), and the phrase that his team used was, ‘The game honors toughness.’ And boy, is that true,” Stevens said. “You see that over and over.”
Stevens would pull starters Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford with roughly six minutes left in the fourth quarter when the Celtics were down by 20. Brown had a particularly rough night shooting one for nine from three last night, decreasing his season average to a woeful 27.3%. Tatum did not perform much better, putting up ten points on five of eleven shooting. Irving commented on his young teammates struggles after the game.
“Going on this early part of the regular season, teams are coming at us, so they’re expecting to make shots, they have a great rhythm; then we get hit in the mouth a few times, and we just gotta be able to respond.”
The Celtics have only themselves to blame for the rut they are in. Poor shot selection is killing them right now and if they are not smarter on offense, they will never figure it out. They are shooting three’s without thinking and that is not how to win in the NBA. The defense has carried them so far and if the Celtics can fix their offensive woes, they will be a lethal unit come June.
The Celtics next game is tomorrow night in Charlotte, North Carolina against the Hornets.