CANTON, Mass. — Starting Tuesday, the 2018-19 Boston Celtics season likely will really be in the past.
But for one final day, the Celtics had to answer questions about what went wrong last season.
The Celtics on Monday held media day for the upcoming campaign, and unsurprisingly the woeful 2018-19 run was among the topics of conversation. But everyone who was asked about it did not shy away from discussing how they can apply those lessons to the upcoming season.
“I think you learn that nothing’s just going to be given to you in this league,” Gordon Hayward said. “I think a lot of people kind of just handed us a trip to the finals and thought we were going to walk our way into the Eastern Conference Finals. And that’s obviously not the case and didn’t happen, and certainly there’s a lot more to basketball than just looking at who’s on the team.
“I think some intangible things we didn’t do as good of a job last year,” Hayward added. “But individually every one of us had a lot to think about this summer, a lot to learn from, what we could do better. And certainly we’ll use that as motivation for myself to be a lot better player during this offseason, making sure that I was getting my work in. I think we’re all looking forward to this season, kind of that fresh start feel, but you kind of have that at each and every season. But a lot of new faces, a lot of young guys, so I know we’re all looking forward to it.”
As for Jayson Tatum, he used the summer to reflect.
“I think that’s the best thing that happened last year, the teaching experience,” Tatum said. “Especially for me, just being young and in my second year, it’s something I can look back on and ask myself what I could have done better and try to apply it to the upcoming season. You can’t change what happened in the past, you can only worry about what’s next.”
Head coach Brad Stevens has been candid about the 18-19 team’s trails and tribulations, and he tackled them again Monday.
“I just think all that I’ve always thought and believed about the game has just been reinforced, and we’re looking forward to getting to work,” Stevens said. “Every team is its own entity so every team has its own needs, I said last week this team will have to play a little bit differently on both sides of the ball than we have. Not enormously differently, but we’ll have to do little things here and there.
“Our focus over the next couple weeks is just getting ready to play with the right effort and togetherness, that’s it. At the end of the day, that will give us the chance to be the best version of ourselves, and obviously at the end of the season that’s what you want to be able to point to. I like this team, I like their work ethic, they’ve done a great job of earning the right to practice well, to start a season well, but there’s a lot of things ahead, and we’re looking forward to getting started.”
Semi Ojeleye already admitted the vibe around the team facility is different, so it seems clear that each player (especially the returning ones) are cherishing the fresh start.