Celtics Look to Dig Out of Rut After Being Struck Down by Thunder
BOSTON – The Boston Celtics currently find themselves in a bit of a rut after dropping their fourth straight home game Sunday night in a 105-104 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. But it's a rut that they know they can dig their way out of.
Following Sunday's loss, coach Brad Stevens reminded us that every good team goes through such moments of struggle during the long, grinding regular season, and there's no reason why this team won't be able to rediscover the rhythm they had been in throughout the majority of the campaign.
“This is part of navigating your way through this stuff,” Stevens said. “So you can feel like you’re on top of the world one week and you can feel like the sky is falling the next. That’s the hardest part of the NBA is that’s just the way it goes. We’re playing in a way right now where we just don’t sustain the way that we have and the way that we know we can.”
During Sunday night’s loss, for example, the Celtics were unable to sustain the 18-point lead they had built up during the second quarter against the Thunder. Boston dominated the first 11 minutes of the frame, during which time it outscored OKC 37-17. Things fell apart during the final minute before halftime, however, as the Thunder struck with a quick, 7-0 run to cut the deficit down to 11.
“We loosened up defensively, kind of let our guard down a little bit, and they put a run on us,” Gordon Hayward said of the last-minute breakdown. “That was huge.”
The Thunder then carried their momentum into the third quarter, as they outscored the C’s 31-21 while cutting their deficit down to one point. The game went down to the wire from there, with both teams battling back and forth throughout the final frame, before OKC was able to sneak by with a one-point win.
The loss marked Boston’s sixth in its last 11 games, after having won 10 of its previous 11. It’s the second time this season that the team has gone through a rough patch, as it dropped six of eight during it's most trying stretch of the season in January.
“I’ve lived this before with most of our good teams go through stretches like this and usually two or three a year,” Stevens said. “This is our second one. Hopefully we can nip that in the bud and not have a third one.”
In order to nip this difficult stretch in the bud, the C’s must maintain a resilient attitude.
“We’ve just got to stay together,” said Kemba Walker. “There’s definitely been some very tough losses. But we’ve got to try our best to hold our heads high. Stuff like this happens. Losses come and you can learn from them. You can choose to get better, or go the other way and everybody just go to their own individual corners. But what we’re going to do is we’re going to get better and we’re going to continue to stay together.”
The road won’t get easier in the immediate future, as the Celtics will pack their bags and head on a two-game road trip to face a couple of playoff-bound teams in Indiana and Milwaukee. But the C’s will embrace the challenge, as they try to regain their spark.
“These are tough games coming up, but that’s good because you’ve got to do tough things to get yourself out of a rut,” Stevens said.
And if they can dig their way out of this rut, they’ll look back on this tough stretch and smile.
“This is the part about the NBA that is hard,” Stevens concluded. “And it’s also fun to look back on when you overcome it.”