The Boston Celtics put together about as ugly a performance as you could expect of them Tuesday night, suffering a blowout loss to the young, inexperienced and shorthanded Oklahoma City Thunder.
Boston’s 33-point road loss was to an OKC squad that was without its best player in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — leaving many wondering what could lead to such a lopsided defeat of the NBA’s top seed.
Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla has an idea.
“They played harder than us the entire game,” Mazzulla said, per video from NBC Sports Boston. “… You have to play with a sense of humility every night, knowing that your opponent wants to beat you. We have to match that, and we didn’t and we got outplayed.”
The poor effort isn’t something that worries Boston’s coach, however. Mazzulla confirmed as much with a calming message.
“I’m not concerned, but we have to coach in the short term and for the long term, as well,” Mazzulla said. “It may not be the most popular thing to say, but you gotta go through some (expletive) if you wanna get to where you wanna get to. Whether it’s good or bad, that’s just how it is.
“We have to go through it and we’ll be judged by how we handle it. If we handle it the right way it will be good for us and if we don’t that’s something that we’ll have to adjust.”
During the dominant Thunder effort, frustrations boiled over for Celtics guard Marcus Smart, who was ejected after receiving a second technical foul in the game. Trying to get him off the court without an incident was about as much effort as Boston showed, as it played the likes of Noah Vonleh, Justin Jackson and Payton Pritchard for the majority of the final quarter.
The damning loss will need to be put behind the Celtics quickly, as they travel to take on Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night.