Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla revealed concerns after the team's loss to the 15th-seeded Houston Rockets, admitting that this could be a sign that they are not ready to compete in the playoffs.
“Yeah, those are concerning, those margins; the free throws, the rebounding, the turnovers, the second chances, regardless of who you play, that’s playoff basketball, at its finest, is the ability to win those situations, and it’s concerning that we’ve been inconsistent on that, and we have to be committed to those regardless who were playing, of the situation, regardless of the situations, we have to be committed to those,” Mazzulla said in a post-game interview .
Where did the Celtic pride go?
Mazzulla’s concerns are justified, as it seems the Celtics have a certain lack of energy despite having one of the more offensively gifted rosters in the league. They were cold from the first minute as they shot an abysmal 28 percent from three, which was then marred by fast-breaking runs by young Rockets.
"You've got to take the shots you have when you're open," Celtics coach continued . "Offensive rebounds, second chance points, turnovers -– that's the game I don't care if you shoot half-court shots -– if you don't win those three margins you're not going to win many basketball games. When we're at our best, we do that; when we're inconsistent, we don't. We have to be committed to those."
Despite Jaylen Brown playing extremely well, the rest of the Celtics were lacking in the scoring department. Marcus Smart, Al Horford, and Derrick White scored in single digits, while Jayson Tatum was once again cold as he started the game 1-for-10 from the field—that's not what you want to see from your superstar, who should be leading his team to a supposedly deep playoff run.
Can the Celtics still adjust before the playoffs?
Two major problems stand out for the Celtics: rebounding and energy.
The Rockets outrebounded the Celtics by ten and had five more offensive rebounds that led to multiple second-chance points—most of them came in the fourth quarter. Games like these are where Celtics really miss starting center Robert Williams who is sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Another issue was their energy; starting from the get-go, the C's had no offensive conversions in the paint and again chose to force shots from long range. Tatum was 2-for-10 from three, and the Celtics as a team shot 12-for-42 from distance.
The C's still has time to fix their problems; having Williams back will undoubtedly help them in the postseason as they sit second in the East with a 47-22 record. However, another deep playoff run is in question if they continue to play the way they did last night.