The Boston Celtics are back home after a very disappointing road trip. By now we all know the formula for the Celtics struggles.
- Come out, generate some good open looks but miss
- Struggle defensively because the other team is now running in transition
- Slowly devolve into isolation basketball that makes the offense look worse
- Get down big
- Make a furious comeback
- Lose anyway unless it’s a bad team like Phoenix
When this happens, a lot of things can pile up. Misses lead to the erosion of confidence which leads to being sluggish which leads to bad defense… and so on. So Brad Stevens is spending today keeping it simple.
There’s a bigger issue at hand though, which is something we’ve been talking about on the Locked On Celtics podcast for a while.
We talk about it again in the most recent show.
Today Jaylen Brown acknowledged that trust was a factor.
“We have tremendous bursts where we play great,” he said. “We just gotta put up 48 minutes just stick with it, trust each other, and continue that because there’s times we go through droughts and we start going back to things that are bad habits.”
This goes to what I’ve been saying for a couple of weeks now.
When Jaylen said after the win in Phoenix
“We’ve got so many guys that’s so talented and the game comes easy to, sometimes we forget why we started and that process we took to get here. We’ve gotta play like we’re hungry. We can’t play like we’re sitting on a mountaintop.”
It’s not even about hungry or mountaintops, it’s about moving the ball and trusting it will come back to you if you do the right thing and get to the right places. Sometimes having the ball is a disadvantage, so you give it up and you move, cut, get or set picks, and eventually it will come back to you in a better position to score.
The team chemistry here is good. They should trust in the offense and not go off on their own. Once they get to that point of true selflessness, their offense will explode.
Part of the trust issues is the fact that there are a lot of guys capable of scoring, which means there are a lot of guys who go off on their own hoping to pull the team out of whatever funk they’re in.
There’s a backlash to that, because that also means guys aren’t able to get their usual shots, which means they have a tendency to hunt out their own shots earlier in the shot clock just to get going.
It’s an interesting side effect Jaylen described like this.
“Trying to develop a rhythm out there, just knowing there’s guys behind you that’s coming in and playing and playing well. Instead of looking over your shoulder thinking about that, everybody’s got to come out and play their game.”
So when I asked Jaylen how the team goes back to trusting?
“Just coming out and, I don’t know, just playing basketball,” he said. “We’ve been playing together for two years, this group has been together for two years, so we’ve got a good team, just trust the offense, trust Brad, trust in each other.”
This is what it all boils down to. If this team can get to that place where everyone trusts each other, then they can feel good about giving the ball up because they know it will come back to them. If they trust each other, the defense will get better, which will lead to more scoring opportunities. If they trust each other, everyone will find their rhythm because the ball will find the right guy at the right time.
The path is laid out for the Celtics. Now the question is whether they can get there.