The door for the Boston Celtics to reach the NBA Finals last season was wide open. The fifth-seeded Miami Heat slammed it shut, defeating the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals in six games. The 2020-21 Celtics are off to a rough start. Kemba Walker recently had some troubling comments and they were not a good look for coach Brad Stevens.
It’s been a rough start for the Celtics in the 2020-2021 season
The Boston Celtics have locked up their two biggest stars long term. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the future of the Celtics, but their inconsistent play has them living in mediocrity. Through 26 games this season, Boston is 13-13.
The Celtics’ recent play has been dreadful. They are coming off losses to the Detroit Pistons and the Washington Wizards. This season, the Celtics are 1-2 against the Pistons, while Detroit is 6-18 against the rest of the league. Boston has dropped four of its last five games.
In Sunday’s 104-91 loss to the Wizards (7-17), Tatum finished with six points on 3-of-14 shooting. Tatum signed a long-term extension worth nearly $200 million. He and Brown are considered the future of the Celtics, but both have signed significant extensions with the team and should be leading the Celtics now.
Is Brad Stevens’ seat getting hotter?
Brad Stevens backers will tell you he’s taken the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals in three of the last four seasons. Those who believe Brad Stevens might be on the hot seat will argue that he can’t get them over the hump. Although the Celtics’ problems go well beyond Stevens, he has to be feeling some pressure.
Danny Ainge has always had the backing of Stevens. Still does. Ainge is a big part of the problem as well. The Celtics had a boatload of draft picks, had a roster of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Kyrie Irving, and let much of it get away. Gone is Irving. Gone is Gordon Hayward. To date, the Celtics have gotten nothing in return. The treasure chest of draft picks no longer exists. Boston’s success now hangs in the hands of Tatum and Brown.
Stevens is in his eighth season in the NBA as head coach of the Celtics. He’s had his chances to get over the hump and get the team into the NBA Finals, but hasn’t come through. His best chance came during a home Game 7 against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals in May of 2018 when the Celtics held a double-digit lead in the first half. Instead, the Celtics continued to throw up 3-pointers (7-for-39) and scored 13 points in a dreadful third quarter, eventually falling to the Cavs 87-79.
Kemba Walker’s comments not a good look for Brad Stevens
After the Boston Celtics were embarrassed again Sunday in a 104-91 loss to the Washington Wizards, Kemba Walker blasted the team. Walker in his second year with the Celtics, said effort was a major problem during that loss.
“(We) just need to play harder,” Walker said, according to ESPN. “That’s it. We’re not playing hard. We’re not playing as hard as we know we can. When you play hard, great things happen. And right now, it just hasn’t been consistent, our play. So like I said, we’re going to continue to watch film and learn from our mistakes and get better.”
If effort is the reason the Celtics aren’t winning, that’s on Brad Stevens. One knock on Stevens is he’s unable to coach egos at the NBA level. If he can’t get his players to play hard now, then his seat has gotten much, much hotter.