BOSTON — Brad Stevens put it as gently as possible.
“I did not think our energy was an A-plus,” Stevens said. “Let’s put it that way.”
Without explicitly calling out his team’s effort, Stevens’ reticence spoke volumes after the Boston Celtics dropped a 108-88 stinker to the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday. After a loss in which the deficit ballooned to as many as 31 points and the Celtics were outscored in the paint 58-32, the team was left to talk around the details of one of the least-inspired efforts of the season.
“We just weren’t on the same page on either end of the floor, and they exposed us,” point guard Rajon Rondo said. “We couldn’t get a rhythm. We started slow, we finished slow, both ends of the floor. We didn’t make the second and third effort, and they did.”
Some games against the Warriors (38-24), opponents simply tip their caps while Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson rain 3-pointers. Not on Wednesday. The Celtics (20-41) were trounced despite the Warriors shooting just 5-for-28 from deep, making the margin of defeat actually rather remarkable. Twenty-two turnovers by Boston aided the Warriors’ cause in that respect.
Brandon Bass, one of the few players who clearly played hard every minute he was on the floor, declined to question his teammates’ intensity. Stevens, for his part, backtracked slightly, admitting he did not want to generalize when he will inevitably see some players giving admirable effort when he rewatches the game later. He also noted that Boston was coming off a fairly strong performance against the Indiana Pacers and that he thought Tuesday’s practice was one of the best the Celtics had in a long time, to stress that he doesn’t feel his team is quitting.
“I don’t think this (loss) is indicative of our mindset or where we are,” Stevens said. “I thought we played really poorly. I kind of kick myself, to be honest, because I think I’ve said three times this year, ‘We had a really good practice yesterday.’ And we did. For whatever reason, we follow it up with a clunker. That’s what we did (Wednesday).
“I see nothing but recognition that we didn’t play well, with pride that we will play better and expectations that we’re going to come to work and be better. That’s the expectation, period. I’ve heard people say, when your record is what ours is, you’re playing for pride. Well, yeah, but that’s a lot. To me, pride is a lot. It’s important that we show ourselves a lot different than we did (Wednesday).”
While he couldn’t be called a bright spot — there were no real bright spots for the Celtics — Kelly Olynyk posted another promising performance. The rookie finished with a game-high 19 points, with five rebounds and three assists, which wasn’t awful.
Granted, most of his damage was done in garbage time, as he and Stevens acknowledged. Eleven of Olynyk’s points came in the fourth quarter, after the outcome was long decided. He also got some help from D-League call-up Chris Babb, who scored the first five points of his NBA career. At least they helped make a severe blowout look like a more respectable, run-of-the-mill blowout. So there’s that.