Perhaps the number one question coming out the Boston Celtics second, and final, preseason game last night was…
“what was that?”
Brad Stevens, it appears, would like to know the same thing.
“When you play the way we did last night, or even the other day at times, there’s a lot to work on,” he said after the team’s Saturday practice. “Today we spent a good deal on what everybody’s role is on the team to add value to winning, and then the guys competed at a good level today. Step forward, and that’s good. Because I don’t know if we could have taken much of a step backwards.”
The Celtics are in a bit of a bind and the short turnaround did them no favors. Instead of Kemba Walker’s rehab leading him nicely into the start of a season, it’s going to cost him games. The ultra-swift free agency made getting a return for Gordon Hayward difficult. And now, the Celtics find themselves shorthanded and relying on a lot of very young guys to fill important roles. That leads to a tendency to lose themselves in the moment.
“Some people have to take on more minutes with a couple of the guys we have out. That doesn’t mean they have to try to be the guys that we have out. We need them to just be the best version of themselves,” Stevens said. “That’s hard when you’ve got a lot of young guys that are trying to prove themselves, but good teams get there sooner rather than later… I think we’ll get there. We’ve got a good group of people. Like really good group of people. We’re just young with a lot of guys that are trying to figure out where they stand.”
According to Grant Williams, Stevens didn’t mince words delivering that message in practice.
“The message was just conveyed directly, no question of it. We were just kind of defined in what we were asked to do,” Williams said. “For this team to be successful, we all have to do our jobs and do them efficiently and do them well. So I think the biggest thing for us was we just weren’t being true to ourselves. I don’t think we were trying to do too much… I think we just weren’t playing how we should be.”
The message was very Belichickian in nature. It’s the phalanx theory, where if everyone in formation does what he’s supposed to do, the collective strength of the group increases.
The Celtics have a lot to clean up, but just simplifying their approach and everyone focusing on their jobs will help move the whole thing forward.
“Everybody add their strengths together and be a good basketball team,” Stevens said. “We know who our go-to players are. You all know who are go-to players are. And we all have to do our best to accentuate them and the other players on this team.”