The Boston Celtics look like a team who just want to get to the NBA All-Star break.
Maybe they need to get some rest. Or they want to get vocal leader Marcus Smart back on the floor. Or they want to stop losing.
The thing is, though, the Celtics, having dropped their last three games, still have four contests separating them from said break. It could be the difference between being on the outside looking in on the NBA Playoff picture, or maybe the No. 5 or No. 6 seed.
Boston at this moment is the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference, with the same record as the No. 6 New York Knicks and one win up on the No. 8 Chicago Bulls.
“I told them in the locker room, ‘You know, nobody is happy with how things are going. We have four games before break. And those four games — from mental energy, physical energy and everything we have (mindset) — are as pivotal a four games as we?ll play all season. So, our focus will go to that. This one is a tough one.”
Jayson Tatum seems to have heard the message.
“We got four games til the break — four very important games,” Tatum told reporters. “Because I think the time is now. We don’t have much time, we don’t have any time to relax. We got to dig deep and we got to figure it out.”
The Celtics have lost 14 of their last 21. But even on their most recent road trip — an overtime loss to the New Orleans Pelicans and a buzzer-beater loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday — Boston didn’t come out and flat out lay an egg like they did Wednesday.
The Hawks scored 40 first-quarter points and 72 first-half points. Atlanta took a 27-point lead just 22 minutes into the game. Quite frankly, it was over before the half.
Stevens seemed to be more disappointed it that than the fact that Danilo Gallinari, who scored a game-high 38 points, was 10-for-12 from beyond the arc.
“But if anything, I think that first two games on the trip we gave ourselves a chance, tonight we never did,” Stevens said. “Obviously, very frustrating.”
The 15-17 Celtics return to TD Garden on Friday against the Indiana Pacers.