Sunday's Loss Was a Speed Bump, Not a Stop Sign, for the Celtics

The Boston Celtics aren’t immune to days like Sunday, which featured a runaway loss to the New York Knicks. The Celtics know that, and they just want to ensure that such days are few and far between this season.

New York marched Sunday afternoon into TD Garden and took it to the Celtics from start to finish while logging a 105-75 victory. Boston never led during the contest and, in a rare occurrence in the NBA, never managed to put together a run to get back into the game.

It was the exact opposite of the team’s performance Friday night, during which it led by as many as 29 points before completing a 27-poit victory over the Orlando Magic.

Surely, the C’s didn’t morph from great to horrible in a span of 40 hours; they instead just ran into one of those unforgiving days that curses every team in the league at least a couple of times throughout each season.

“Today, we had a clunker,” a realistic but unconcerned Brad Stevens said after the game. “And you hope to have as few of those during an NBA season as possible, but inevitably you have a couple.”

Minutes later, center Daniel Theis relayed a similar message from a player’s perspective, saying, “You’re gonna have nights like this, but hopefully it’s just one night or two the whole season and we can live with it if we learn from it.”

Some fans may cringe after learning that their team is able to take such a loss in stride. However, a team’s ability to do so is usually more of a positive sign than a negative sign.

These comments from Boston’s players and coaches are evidence that the Celtics are capable of acknowledging a poor performance, learning from it, moving on from it, and returning to the team that they believe they are at their core.

As Stevens said of this game in particular, “I don’t believe that’s who this team is.”

This was a speed bump for Boston, not a stop sign. As such, the Celtics will aim to learn from the film and move forward knowing that they have had far more promising moments than discouraging moments this season.

After all, there’s a reason why they entered Sunday atop the Eastern Conference standings.

Boston racked up eight wins during its first 11 games of the season despite dealing with a long list of absences due to injuries, illnesses and Health and Safety protocols. Romeo Langford (12 games), Kemba Walker (11 games), Rob Williams (three games), Jayson Tatum (two games), Tristan Thompson (two games), Jeff Teague (two games), Marcus Smart (one game) and Grant Williams (one game), all of whom have been or are projected to be a part of the rotation this season, have all missed various amounts of time on the injury list. The upcoming weeks are promising for the team as that list becomes shorter and shorter.

Walker returned to action Sunday afternoon to tally nine points and four assists during 19-plus minutes of action. He looks healthy and explosive and said Sunday that he is pain-free for the first time in a long time. Meanwhile, Tatum and Rob Williams could also return to the lineup later this week to bring the top of Boston’s rotation closer to full health than it has been all season.

Those are good signs – signs which are far more important than one anomaly on a Sunday afternoon against New York. The Celtics realize that and will look forward to what they can become as opposed to concentrating on what they were during their most recent defeat.

“We got to get that chemistry back,” Walker said of he and the team’s search for improvement. “I’ve been out for a while. I haven’t been playing with the team. I haven’t been practicing much. It’s only a matter of time.”

Time which will allow the Celtics to practice together, to play more games together, to grow together, and, in the long-term, to make everyone forget about that one Sunday afternoon in mid-January.

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