A lot of the silver lining this season has been largely centered on particular person accomplishments. Jayson Tatum is on the trail to superstardom. Jaylen Brown isn’t far behind after making his first All-Star Sport. Payton Pritchard appears like a steal from the draft. Robert Williams has turned upside and potential into actual manufacturing.
However regardless of all these singular accolades, the Celtics are nonetheless solely a recreation above .500 at 20-19 and as a workforce, haven’t performed effectively sufficient to compete with the league’s finest. After a 117-109 loss to the Jazz on Tuesday evening, Boston fell to 0-8 towards Utah, Brooklyn, Phoenix, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.
At 29-10, the Jazz have the very best document within the league, however that’s not essentially what impresses Brad Stevens. For the Celtics head coach, it’s their precision and execution on the ground and a stark realization that Boston simply isn’t there but.
“(Utah) makes folks pay greater than anyone within the league as a workforce,” Stevens mentioned of the Jazz’s top-5 offense. “There are particular people across the league that make you pay each time you make a mistake. (Utah) makes you pay each time you make a mistake as a workforce…There’s a motive why the remainder of us don’t have their document. That’s the fact of it. We don’t make folks pay as a lot as they make everybody else pay.”
A lot of Utah’s success has been born out of their roster consistency. Since drafting Donovan Mitchell in 2017 (the identical 12 months as Jayson Tatum), the Jazz’s two-time All-Star has performed with Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles, Georges Niang, and Royce O’Neale for 4 seasons, Derrick Favors for 3, and Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanović, and Jordan Clarkson for 2. After back-to-back first spherical exits, their endurance has lastly paid off.
For the Celtics, whereas their core three players–Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Sensible–have all gone deep into the playoffs collectively, there’s much less shared expertise between them and the remainder of their present teammates. Ten of Boston’s fifteen rostered gamers are on rookie contracts and on this season alone, these three plus Kemba Walker have solely performed 4 video games collectively. And with greater than half the season within the books, they’re nonetheless displaying some rising pains.
“We don’t learn it as shortly proper now. That’s what you hope to get to,” Stevens mentioned. “You hope to get to the purpose the place you catch it, you’re open, you shoot it. You come off a display screen, you’re open, you shoot it. You come off a display screen and so they’re up (on protection), you do away with it fast and also you make the fitting learn, whether or not it’s forward, whether or not it’s to the roll, whether or not it’s to the man behind, whether or not it’s throughout the courtroom on a skip. These are issues that the very best pick-and-roll gamers, the very best catch-and-shoot gamers can do as they proceed to progress.”
The Celtics aren’t there but, however they’ve proven enchancment of late. After a disastrous highway journey, Boston received 4 straight at residence heading into the All-Star break and appeared to be on the fitting path.
“I really feel like we’ve been taking part in so much higher just lately. On some nights, photographs aren’t falling like we wish them to. However we’re for certain taking part in higher,” Jayson Tatum mentioned after he and Brown mixed for 57 factors, however Boston’s bench was outscored 45-to-21. “I can say that. I really feel it. I feel it’s apparent after we play. We’ve misplaced to some actually good groups just lately that we really feel like there have been a number of errors change, the end result could have been totally different.”
Overlook that Utah made 19 of their 43 three-point makes an attempt. Disregard that they shot twenty extra free throws than Boston. For Brown, his focus was much less on made or missed photographs, however the little issues that lead as much as them.
“It’s not the motion. It’s our promise to timing,” Brown mentioned. “We gotta get it out of our fingers faster. Simply half a second could make the most important distinction. Making the fitting play proper on time is vital for us. I do know I’ve gotten higher at that because the season has gone on and I’ll proceed to get higher at it, however we gotta proceed to get higher as a workforce.”