Ime Udoka hasn’t put it softly all season, especially after these late-game collapses Celtics fans have either become desensitized to or learned to expect.
Add another close loss to the running list Boston has racked up this season, after the New York Knicks chipped away at 25-point lead through the third and fourth to win Thursday’s game 108-105.
The buzzer-beater that sealed the deal came from R.J. Barrett, but former Celtics wing Evan Fournier shot out of his mind for a career-high 41 points against his former team. As Fournier and the Knicks really started to see things heating up, only Jayson Tatum managed to answer on offense.
Udoka pretty much called it predictable the way Boston loses games, in so many words.
“It’s been the same result and some kind of lack of mental toughness there, where something goes a little bad and we all start to drop our head everybody adds to it instead of stepping up and calming us,” Udoka said postgame.
“A repetitive result is happening. Either we’re gonna make some adjustments and get tired of it or it’s going to keep happening. So the message was short and sweet — wasn’t about the last play again — it was everything leading up to it. We needed some leadership, somebody that can calm us down and not get rattled when everything starts to go a little south and I think it snowballs between our guys. So step up or do I have to stop all our momentum and pace and call a play? So that’s what I said to them.”
No player was called out specifically, but Udoka would like to see more resolve from his team on a consistent basis.