Jared Sullinger feels disrespected; Opponents think Celtics are "soft"

Since the Rajon Rondo trade earlier this month, the Celtics have gone 1-4. That was to be expected. The loss of a leader, captain, and longest tenured member on the roster is likely to leave a team struggling to find direction, which-- barring a Disney movie-esque overcoming of circumstance-- is more than likely to result in a bunch of losses.

Saturday night’s game against Washington hurt. Not because the Celtics had two great back-to-back performances against them earlier this season, but because of something MassLive’s Jay King captured.

Late in the first quarter of a Boston Celtics nightmare, Washington Wizards star John Wall caught a pass at the elbow with plenty of momentum directed toward the hoop. As he began to execute a beautiful, albeit excessive, 360-degree spin move, teammate Paul Pierce called out three words: "(Expletive) on him!"

Paul Pierce called out three words: “(Expletive) on him!”

Ugh. That one stings.

That kind of sums up the first quarter or so of this season. Hot starts and comebacks that end in losses and drawn out match ups that end in losses.

"They weren't going to let us back tonight," Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said, referencing a powerful comeback three weeks ago. "You knew that that was going to be a much more difficult mountain to climb."

The Celtics have been able to hang with some of the best teams in the Association this season-- we’ve had some “fun loses” if you will. As the losses stack up and rumors that Trader Danny is going to get busy again before the deadline in February, the weight of “fun losses” is getting harder to carry.

It’s weighing on the team as well. Celtics forward Jared Sullinger spoke about the mood on the court and in the locker room following Saturday night’s game.

"Teams are just coming out and smashing us in the mouth," said power forward Jared Sullinger, who had 12 points and five rebounds. "We've just got to be prepared for it. People feel like we're sweet or soft. We've just got to play tough. "It's very disrespectful," Sullinger continued. "It's very disrespectful. But only us guys in the locker room can change that."

For the most part, the Celtics are taking this one and hoping to learn from it. New Celtic soundbyte machine Evan Turner summed it up nicely.

"It's all aggressiveness and communication," Turner said. "When you communicate, that builds an energy and it builds an aggressiveness, a physicality. If we're going to get beat, let's get beat out of toughness and everything like that. Not getting beat the way we just did. We kind of got pushed 40 feet out in our offense. We just weren't aggressive."

Let’s hope staying aggressive is the key to salvaging the season. There’s a lot of basketball left to go. While the C’s may not be finals bound in 2015, if the morale doesn’t bottom out, I’d consider that a moral victory.

Photo: AP

Source: Jay King; MassLive