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The Boston Celtics had a game last night on their home floor against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Problem is, apparently the Celtics weren’t aware of that fact.

Yes, they wore their uniforms, came out for the intros, ran up and down the court. They even passed the ball a couple times (most of the time to their teammates) and even made an occasional shot. Maybe the Celtics roster (minus Walter Lemon Jr. who played like his life depended on it) were victims of the pesky Gmail update that rendered communications useless, leaving coach Brad Stevens' note to them that anything less than 100% won't be tolerated floating in the world wide abyss.

Unfortunately for Boston, Cleveland Cavaliers Head Coach Ty Lue had no problem getting his guys the message that a game was happening -- as evidenced by their style of play. A style of play which is characteristically attributed to the Celtics.

Now, while the message wasn’t received by the Celtics roster, rest assured they heard Brad Stevens loud and clear in his presser, after he stated he "couldn't be more unimpressed" with the team after their first three pre-season games. In an apparent piggyback of Jaylen Brown's comments the other day that the team performed on ability alone, but still weren't executing, Steven's noted:
No shot we dominate off talent alone. No team does that. You have to play together, you have to play the right way. If you have really good players and they all do that, then you can have a special year.

Allow me to say that I love everything about Brad Stevens. His passion, work ethic, desire, but, just as importantly, his demeanor. Not one to blow his top and go on a Bobby Knight-esque, chair-throwing tirade, Stevens simply communicated -- both verbally and non-verbally -- his level of disappointment. Which, anyone who’s ever been scolded by a parent knows, “disappointment” cuts much deeper than an irate, frustrated soliloquy belted over a loud speaker.

 Stevens continued.
"We'll go back and start with, 'Are you doing it well enough? Are you executing techniques hard enough? Then you move to 'Do we need to change it?' And that very well could be a change in personnel or system. So we'll figure out where it is right now, but I couldn't be more unimpressed after our first three exhibition games."

Clearly, as Stevens pointed out, the Celtics have a ton of work to do. Yes, it’s only pre-season, but that’s the time to refine, not time to go to the drawing board.

One aspect that was particularly upsetting to Brad -- and us fans -- was a completely lackadaisical approach on the defensive end. The part of the game the Celtics have always hung their hats on.
I think overall in the first week, [our main rotation] has not been effective. I thought we looked like a sieve defensively.

As Celtics.com writer Marc D'Amico noted in his column:
The Celtics have now given up an average of 106.0 points per game during the preseason. They’ve allowed opponents to outshoot them by nearly 9.0 percent from the field. They’ve committed a total of 92 personal fouls, good for an average of 30.7 per game. Those numbers are in stark contrast to last season, when Boston allowed opponents to score only 100.4 PPG on 44.0 percent shooting, all while committing an average of just 19.7 fouls per game.

In a nutshell, so far this pre-season, defense has been non-existent. Offense has had moments, but has been wildly inconsistent, and the three-ball? Well, let's not even go there.

But I'm not reaching for the panic button. Far from it. In fact, my initial response to their play was that they'd get a good, firm "talking to" by Stevens and get that proverbial, much-needed wake-up call.

Personally, I'm happy about it. Not happy as in a hating Sixers fan is happy, but happy in the sense that the Celtics -- from Gordon Hayward and Al Horford all the way down the line to the G-leaguers -- are getting a swift kick in the ass now as opposed to when wins and losses actually count.

Kyrie Irving was out though, some would say. So. No excuse.

Gordon Hayward is still rusty, others will clamor. Again, no excuse.

This team, sans the aforementioned, along with no Theis, were able to take this same Cavs team to seven in the conference finals. Oh, and they also had the best player on the world at their disposal at the time.

The Celtics have no excuse. What they do have is an exorbitant amount of talent and one hell of a coach. They just need to know a game is going on, bring the effort they normally do, and the rest will be cream cheese.

After Stevens' comments last night, I'm willing to bet there won't be too many messages getting lost in a spam folder somewhere.

Watch Brad Stevens' presser here:
 
Follow Edward Babaian on Twitter: @bojixbabaian

Photo Credit: Boston Herald

Edward Babaian 10/03/2018 04:06:00 PM Edit
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