Richard Jefferson Explains Why Celtics’ Struggles Aren’t Surprising

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Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum

Photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images

The Boston Celtics got off to a blistering start this season, reeling off 16 straight wins after dropping their first two games.

While the C’s have spent a majority of the season on top of the Eastern Conference, Boston enters the NBA All-Star break in second place after losing four of their last five games.

The Celtics have gone 6-9 since returning from their game in London against the Philadelphia 76ers, and there might be reason to be concerned about the C’s as second-year forward Jaylen Brown and rookie sensation Jayson Tatum have started to falter as the season wears on.

Denver Nuggets forward Richard Jefferson joined “The Bill Simmons Podcast” to discuss a multitude of things, and the veteran swingman touched on the C’s recent struggles and why it will be difficult for Kyrie Irving and Co. to regain their high-level form from early this season.

“It’s going to be tough for Boston and this is respectful,” Jefferson said. “It’s not because of the coach, it’s not because of Kyrie, not because of the guys — it’s just, it’s so tough to do that all season long, right? And then you’re talking about teams, people talk about the Warriors being bored. They are going to play until June, so for young guys, 82 games alone can mentally fry you, and no you’re going to add in another 20 games for them to get to the Conference finals and then got to the championship.

“And I did it as a rookie and I did it in my second year, but I was apart of a ton of other veterans, and I was just kind of a role player in that mode. I’m not saying they can’t do it, but you’re going to see these ups and downs like they are kind of going through right now.”

Jefferson won a title with Irving, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, so he certainly knows how tough the championship grind can be.

The Celtics rely on a host of talented youngsters to complement Irving and Al Horford, and the wear and tear of an 82-game season certainly could be the reason for their regression.

As Jefferson notes, Boston still could pull out of their rut and make a championship run, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise that guys who still are getting used to the ins and outs of the NBA season are beginning to struggle after 59 games.

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