So far, that’s been a struggle.
Although Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens before the season expressed a desire to surround Tatum and Brown with players who accentuate them, Boston still hasn’t found a successful formula. And shooting, in general, has been a major issue for the C’s.
“If there is a need as far as a very short-term need that we would look to address — and again, you do it either by looking at your bench and figuring out rotation tweaks or you do it by small deals — then that would be something that we’ll certainly look at from a shooting standpoint,” Stevens told The Athletic’s Jay King as part of an interview published Monday. “Defensively, I feel pretty good about where we’re at overall. I think our record is .500. Our point differential suggests we should be a little better than that. And I think that that’s probably due — not probably — it’s definitely due to the close games. But we’ve played better as of late in those scenarios. So that’s good. But I would say shooting would be the part where we can do a better job of accentuating those guys’ strengths.”
How Boston addresses its shooting woes remains to be seen. As Stevens mentioned, Celtics head coach Ime Udoka could keep tinkering with the lineup until he finds the right recipe. Or Stevens could look outside the organization, perhaps with an eye toward swinging a deal before the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline.
Either way, something needs to change. The Celtics have been stuck in neutral this season, and it’s hard to imagine them taking the next step in the Eastern Conference without a proactive approach to fixing their weaknesses.
“We have a good idea of some of the things that we will look at, that we will pursue. We obviously will be active in both calling and answering,” Stevens told King of the trade deadline. “And every decision that we make, the question that we have to ask is, ‘Does this make sense in this one deal to do to give us the best chance to be in the mix for competing for a banner?’ That’s it. That’s the driving force in each one. So each deal would be its own separate entity in that, but at the same time that’s the north star.”
Tatum and Brown might be around for the long haul. The question then becomes: Who should join them for the journey as the Celtics reconfigure on the fly?