Boston blame game: Who is most responsible for Celtics’ lack of joy, consistency? | NBA

For the Celtics, possibly there’s some hope that it was lastly mentioned. It got here, no shock, from veteran ahead Marcus Morris after consecutive blown results in Los Angeles’ NBA golf equipment, first an 18-point flub to the Lakers on Thursday, then a 28-point blown-lead calamity on Saturday in opposition to the Clippers.

So Morris went in entrance of the media and said what’s become obvious about this team — it’s received no camaraderie, no sense of shared goal and most of all, no enjoyable.

“I don’t see the enjoyment within the recreation,” Morris mentioned. “Once I watch all these different groups across the league, and guys are up on the bench, they’re leaping on the court docket, they’re doing all this different stuff that appears like they’re having fun with their teammates’ success. They’re having fun with the whole lot they usually’re taking part in collectively they usually’re taking part in to win. And once I have a look at us I simply see a bunch of people.”

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It’s a screwball time within the NBA, this week earlier than the All-Star Recreation and after the commerce deadline, so it’s doable that the 2 current Boston lapses have been a blip on what may nonetheless be a profitable season and deep playoff run. However there’s no difficult what Morris mentioned. This workforce is stocked with expertise however has little or no enjoyable.

How did a Celtics workforce that almost reached the NBA Finals even with out Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward final spring wind up on this place, fifth within the convention and nonetheless pointing fingers within the locker room?

There’s blame to go round. Let’s see how a lot of that blame every Celtics entity ought to get.

Celtics president Danny Ainge

Blame share: 40 %

All of it ought to begin with Ainge as a result of he ought to have seen these points forward of time. The truth is, he most likely did.

Going again to final spring, there was consideration within the Boston entrance workplace that the roster wanted to be thinned out to ease the minutes crunch that was on the horizon. Within the draft, the Celtics had eyes for Texas’ Mo Bamba, a rim-protecting, big-man undertaking who would wish time to develop. The Celtics may have dealt away some mixture of Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown or draft picks to safe a spot to get him.

As a substitute, Ainge stood pat and entered the season with the roster logjam that’s now inflicting a lot hassle. Ainge has accomplished nicely to hoard property for the Celtics over the past six years, however as property grow to be gamers, roles and chemistry points want consideration.

The issue we’re seeing now was in plain sight final spring, and Ainge ignored it.

The Celtics children

Blame share: Zero %

Participant Factors Rebounds Assists Steals 3PT %
Jayson Tatum 18.5 4.4 2.7 1.2 32.4
Jaylen Brown 18.0 4.8 1.4 0.8 39.3
Terry Rozier 16.5 5.3 5.7 1.3 34.7

That’s what the Celtics’ younger trio (Tatum was 19, Brown 21 and Rozier 23) did within the postseason final spring, and in doing so, had the workforce inside a recreation — inside 11 minutes, actually — of the NBA Finals. They have been sensational, and projections about accolades and wealthy contracts abounded.

However getting into this 12 months, these three guys have been on contracts paying out a complete of about $14 million, or 11 % of Boston’s payroll. Rozier goes to be a restricted free agent, and Brown is eligible for an extension. They should make a splash to bolster their first large NBA contracts, the sorts of offers that doubtlessly take care of a complete era of relations.

Tatum has remained the workforce’s second possibility, averaging 13.Three photographs per recreation, however he has taken criticism for capturing too many lengthy midrange jumpers (he’s taken fewer this 12 months, truly) and located himself churned by the NBA’s rumor mill when it was reported he can be part of an offseason package for New Orleans star Anthony Davis.

Rozier has seen his minutes (25.9 per recreation to 23.1) lower this 12 months, in addition to his shot makes an attempt (10.Zero to eight.4). With Irving principally wholesome, his utilization fee has gone from 20.Four to 18.4, and he’s been inconsistent together with his shot. He’s a good distance from the “Scary Terry” persona he took on throughout final 12 months’s playoffs, and that would have an effect on the contract he will get this summer season.

Brown has borne the brunt of the Celtics’ lack of chemistry, having sacrificed probably the most of anybody on the roster. He was bumped from the beginning 5, dropped right into a seventh man position behind Hayward, misplaced 5 minutes of taking part in time per recreation and has regressed in what might need been a breakout third season taking part in for nearly anybody however this workforce.

The older Celtics have poked on the younger guys for not willingly making sacrifices to assist the workforce, however all three of those guys ought to be making a lot greater leaps this 12 months, hitting their star-in-the-making strides and securing their locations within the league. Tatum has solely superior marginally, although, and Rozier and Brown are going backwards.

And these guys haven’t gotten the nine-figure mega-contracts a few of their teammates are accumulating. They’ve sacrificed. Cease blaming them.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens

Blame share: 25 %

As we’ve detailed recently, Stevens is an excellent Xs and Os man who operates nicely from an underdog’s perch. However the Celtics entered the season because the favorites within the East and, as they’ve did not dwell as much as that billing, have proven themselves needing non-basketball teaching.

Stevens has by no means been a lot of a locker-room presence, as an alternative leaving inner conflicts to gamers. It’s costing him now.

Nobody expects Stevens to storm into the locker room and hurl furnishings, nor ought to he have a leather-couch {couples} remedy session with every aggrieved participant. That’s not his persona and his gamers comprehend it.

However he wants to search out some hook to impress this workforce — possibly it’s Morris’ Saturday soliloquy — earlier than its likelihood at contending begins slipping away.

Celtics guard Kyrie Irving

Blame share: 25 %

Two summers in the past, Irving agitated for his exit from Cleveland as a result of he needed a workforce on which he was the chief and will escape the shadow of LeBron James. He received that in Boston, however his management type, like a lot about Irving, can greatest be described as “quirky.”

Because the Celtics have been hitting one in all their many pace bumps a month in the past, Irving openly criticized the team’s young players for not being keen to sacrifice sufficient, even if Irving himself has solely shaved his field-goal makes an attempt from 18.1 per recreation final 12 months to 17.9, and his utilization fee as dipped from 31.0 to 29.5. Relating to sacrificing, Irving has not accomplished a lot by means of management by instance.

Then got here the revelation from Irving that he had spoken to James about management and apologized to him for the method to the sport he took when he was younger. That got here within the wake of a powerful workforce victory over the Raptors, guaranteeing that Irving would obtain the majority of the limelight.

As one Celtics supply put it, “Nobody knew what the f— that was. He took a superb second within the season and made all of it about Kyrie.”

There’s a spot between the older Celtics veterans and the younger gamers on the roster. If Irving is the chief right here, it’s his job to bridge that hole. And he has not accomplished it.

Celtics ahead Gordon Hayward

Blame share: 10 %

It’s not that Hayward has accomplished something fallacious — it’s simply that he has been a troublesome piece to squeeze into this rotation. He’s getting more healthy and extra assured, however his restoration from the nasty ankle damage that began the 2017-18 season has affected him all year long, making him tentative and inconsistent.

Hayward is getting $31 million this 12 months to be a sixth man who averages 10.Eight factors and shoots 31.7 % from the 3-point line. Once more, it’s not his fault that the Celtics paid him that deal or that he received damage, however there have to be resentment within the Boston locker room, a way that Hayward, who performed for Stevens at Butler, is being handled with child gloves whereas Irving and Morris are chirping about chemistry.

Hayward will get solely a sliver of blame right here. He might need gotten extra, besides a lot has gone awry in Boston, and there’s a lot different blame to be handed round.

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