They haven’t yet Pacers He went on a run of 18-0. They didn’t after Joe Mazzola called a rare first-quarter timeout. They didn’t let them after the TD Garden crowd have it or after Horford delivered an animated pep talk at one rally. Even after all of that, the Celtics failed to chase down a loose ball late in the second quarter, allowing a leadoff Aaron Nesmith to pick him up and feed him Therese Halliburton To throw the ball through contact.
During the end of the half, during which the Celtics trailed by as much as 30 points, they showed such a lack of energy that Mazzola asked them a question as soon as halftime arrived.
“Which team do you want to be?” Asked.
The Celtics won’t necessarily be able to answer Mazzola’s question in the second half. The kind of team that wants to have tough conditions throughout a long season and peak when the stakes are highest. To achieve what they want, they’ll need to overcome a lot of challenges, including some that far outweigh the December battle with idleness. However, on their way to another disappointing loss, Mazzola believed the Celtics players needed to make a choice.
“Do you want to be a great team?” Grant Williams Called after defeating the Celtics 117-112. “Or do you want to be a mean, flabby, inconsistent team that doesn’t live up to expectations?”
He started booing. Celtics fell 55-30 to Indiana. at home.
– Jay King (@ByJayKing) December 22, 2022
The Celtics played like a great team for most of the season. Until the start of this slump two weeks ago, they had the best offensive rating NBA History. Prior to this slide, they were in charge of the Eastern Conference despite losing Robert Williams For the first 29 games of the season. But in their first real upset of the regular season, they’ve now lost five of their last six games, leaving the players struggling to regain their collective identity. Jason Tatum The Celtics said they had stopped having as much fun on the field. He thinks they played “a little shy” and “a little tight”. He thinks they need to “learn how to win again.” Although Tatum still seemed far from panicked, noting that the Celtics still had 50 games to go, both Grant Williams and Al Horford said this was a meaningful moment for the team.
“Absolutely,” Horford said. the athlete. “I think it matters. I think it will make our group better in the long run. When you go through it, you don’t want to go through it. It’s rough or rough but we have a flexible group and I know we’ll be better than this.”
said Williams the athlete The Celtics can “dive into it” or “bounce in and out of it in a positive way.”
“We can let it derail our season,” Williams said, “or we can let it turn around and make us understand where we’re trying to be and let us get back in the zone. Because in a month like this, as January approaches mid-season, you can easily put your foot up.” It’s about gas and backing off. But for the team to be great, for the team to be special, for the team to do what we want to do, you can’t do that.”
The Celtics looked unmarked during the first half of Wednesday. After taking an early 11-5 lead, they allowed Indiana to score the next 18 game points and never recovered their morale after that. Mazzulla called a timeout about seven minutes into the first quarter to stop the Pacers’ spurt, but Boston allowed six straight timeouts. The Celtics had 11 turnovers before halftime. Haliburton frequently manipulated Boston’s defense and tallied 20 points and five assists before halftime. The Celtics had some poor defensive breakdowns but the team seemed more bothered by the lack of hustle. The crowd exploded into loud boos late in the second quarter after two straight second-chance runs by the Pacers put Boston down the hole 55-30.
“We just weren’t physical,” Williams said. “We weren’t doing a good job getting back into transition. We weren’t getting the right edge read. We weren’t doing our job of making sure every shot was the right look. And that led to them going out in transition at the break.”
During a mass huddle late in the second quarter, Horford could be seen trying to light up his team. The Celtics implored the others to stay involved. He urged them not to roll over as if it was an easy thing to do during the middle of a long NBA season. He demanded a better brand of basketball than his teammates.
Minutes later, Mazzola asked the players to choose what kind of team they would like to be. Probably adding to his frustration at that moment, he thought the Celtics would be ready to fight back after losing four of their previous five games, including two straight against the Celtics. Charm. The lack of competitiveness surprised him. Shortly before receiving the tip, he went out of his way to say that the effort wasn’t an issue for these Celtics. Despite the recent tension, they are believed to have shown a lead defensively. Before halftime against the Pacers, he seemed to like Boston’s direction as a team. He wanted to avoid overreacting to the unfavorable results that had occurred recently.
“We are building habits that will help us in the future,” said Mazallah. “It’s just a matter of being patient in some areas and then picking it up in a few. So it’s a good challenge.”
This challenge looks a little bigger now. The Celtics almost managed to complete a huge comeback against the Pacers, but fell short after falling behind by five points. They liked the way they played in the second half but conceded they couldn’t sort out the mess they made before then. They want to hold to a higher standard. Williams said he has to be better at picking and cheering on his teammates.
“I haven’t done my job in that regard,” he said. “And we have to do a better job of instilling that fire. Understanding who we were (in the NBA Finals last season) and what we’re trying to get back to — and playing that way every night — we don’t do that often. We come in sometimes and we think we’re going to win a game with our talent and our ability. You can You get away with it sometimes but there are times like tonight where you get punched in the face. How you respond to that punch will not only determine the team, but future success.”
Mazola not only diminished the moment but also neglected to dramatize it. After all, it’s just one approximate two-week stretch in a hot start to the season. She’s a simple nymphomaniac for a Celtics core who’s been through a lot together. They suffered great playoff wins and crushing losses. They survived a disappointing . 500 campaign in 2019-20 and then overhauled themselves after an even worse start to the next season. They rose from 11th place in the Eastern Conference midway through last season to a spot in the NBA Finals. They lost their coach Emi Odoka to suspension shortly before training camp in September, and then rallied around Mazzola.
He wouldn’t underestimate his players now.
“Worried?” Maz Allah said. “I don’t worry. I’m just kind of—we are where we are. You have to rely on who our guys are as people and you have to depend on the process that we’re trying to build. So half like this, I’d be more worried if it were two halves. But it was one.”
Mazzola admitted his team’s poor performance began before that first half.
“But up until this point we competed defensively and it was an offensive issue,” Mazzola said. “In moments like this, it’s important to trust your mates because they’ve been through a lot and they’ve played games like this and they (put on) and prove we’re a really good team. You have to trust the relationships we’ve built just to have a conversation. But I’m not worried I won’t know the next team. I’m satisfied and I’m okay with the fact that I know our guys as people and I know their personalities and I know we’re going through a bit of a tough phase.And that’s part of the NBA.It’s also hard to play the way you did at the beginning of the year and to set such a high level.It’s hard to play on It all the time. So we have to learn how to make that norm a habit.”
Celtics was without Marcus Smart (non-COVID disease) on Wednesday. They reintegrate Robert Williams, who has only played in three games since returning from a knee injury. However, they don’t want to be a team that makes excuses. To answer Mazzola’s question at halftime, Horford said the Celtics want to be “about the right things.”
“And effort should never be questioned,” Horford said. “And I think our effort tonight just wasn’t there from the jump. As we’ve known this year, every team is preparing to play us. And we’ve got to be able to match that intensity. We’ve done well for most of the season but the last couple of weeks it’s been tough for our group. So it’s Just something we’re going through. And I feel like we’re learning from this.”
(Photo by Al Horford and Tyrese Haliburton: Brian Fluharty / USA Today)