The Boston Celtics are back under .500.
They sit in 10th place in the NBA’s Eastern conference with a 13-14 record after another brutal loss — this time to the Phoenix Suns — for their third straight to close out the West Coast road trip.
Plagued by COVID-19, bad outside shooting and inconsistencies everywhere else pretty much all season, this hasn’t been the smooth start Ime Udoka hoped for in his first opportunity as head coach. But we’re at the point in the season where if things aren’t turned around, you can start to lose a locker room.
Udoka addressed that possibility Friday night after the 111-190 loss.
“You got to take the good with the bad and and the way we played on the first two games of the trip, literally — three games ago we were playing a totally different style with the effort and the heart and intensity,” Udoka said. “It’s been inconsistent for sure but it was just here and it’s been here for most of the year the way we played, whether we make shots or not, and so you can’t let that affect us. And we have a ton of games to play left honestly, and so whether it’s interject some energy and life back in when you get a piece back.
“You’re not depending on that, but to my point, whoever’s been in and out, we played a certain way and we didn’t see that the last game so not as worried about losing the locker room as not letting us get deflated when scoring isn’t there. And so relying on defense and the things we did well early when the scoring wasn’t there and giving ourselves a chance — that’s what’s really important to me.”
With a now meaningful sample size of games to look at, Udoka and his staff can take the time to look into the effectiveness of some of their lineups and rotations. Surely they’ll look to adjust accordingly, but it’s unfortunate they haven’t been able to string together more healthy stretches.
It’s time to tighten up with the trade window looming, though. It’s too deep in the season for excuses.