Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Clearly, the Celtics have struggled with the burden of expectations this season. The team’s identity for much of the Stevens era has been a spunky bunch of overachievers who spit in the face of adversity and play their best basketball when everyone else counts them out.
This year’s team hasn’t routinely displayed the sort of mental toughness that past teams routinely oozed. The uneven start to the season led to frustrations (Marcus Smart venting in Portland) and some finger-pointing (Kyrie Irving calling out the younger players in Orlando, then admitting his missteps as a leader in the aftermath). It’s all contributed to a weird dynamic in the Celtics’ locker room this year, one in which it feels like Boston younger players might be walking on eggshells at times. The speculation about Irving’s future and Boston’s not-so-subtle planned pursuit of Anthony Davis this summer has maybe only added some awkwardness to it all.
While Stevens and the Celtics have had minor issues in past seasons, this simply feels like a key moment for this year’s group. How the Celtics respond could dictate just how the rest of the season plays out. Stevens has to get his players to rally around the notion of just playing basketball and leaving all the other drama and distractions behind them.
To date, the 2018-19 Celtics have saved most of their venom for each other and it’s come in the form of passive aggressive soundbites.
It’s a far cry from the chippy underachievers of years past.
Yes, I had to look up ‘smoke’ in the urban dictionary.
This team has tough guys; Smart, Morris Sr. and Aron Baynes won’t back down from anyone. But it’s less about individual toughness and more about team spirit.
Here’s hoping Brad has a column on his master spreadsheet titled ‘smoke.’
On Page 2, the 76ers better keep an eye on their star point guard.
I’m sure the 76ers are thrilled.
The rest of the links
Herald – A timeline of Celtics angst