Brown Confident C’s Will Find “Inner Flame” Over Final 10 Games

Healthcare Heroes Night presented by Beth Israel Lahey Health

Ten days ago, the Boston Celtics were flying high after capturing their sixth straight win over the Golden State Warriors, giving them an 8-1 start to the month of April. However, in the week and a half since, they have come crashing back down the Earth, losing four of their last five games, including a 119-115 defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday night.

The Celtics ignited a spark. The flame didn’t spread. And the light went out. Such has been the story of the season for Boston, as it continues its quest for consistency.

But as frustrating as these ups and downs have been, the C’s still believe that they have what it takes to light a flame that doesn’t go out. They’ve seen how good they can be when they’re on their A-game, and they have faith that they can pull it together by the end of the regular season. Even with just 10 games remaining.

After putting up 39 points in Tuesday night’s loss, Jaylen Brown says that he and his teammates need to “keep developing chemistry and find that inner flame. It needs to be ignited. The passion needs to show on the court, the urgency needs to show. We need that desperately - we need that fire, we need that fight, we need to stop getting hit in the face and try to respond. We have to punch first as a unit. Everybody has to be engaged on that. I still believe that 10 games is enough time to find it, enough time to get things going. We have to be committed to it.”

Such commitment must start on the defensive end, where the Celtics have slipped over the last two games, having allowed 119-plus points to two of the NBA’s bottom-10 offenses in Charlotte and OKC.

“We messed up on some defensive assignments sometimes, and that doesn’t lead to winning,” Payton Pritchard said of his team’s effort against OKC, which came in spite of his career-high 28-point effort. “For us, it’s figuring out how to play 48 minutes and trying to stop teams runs like that … Our focus really needs to just be on the defensive end and becoming a defensive-minded team and really locking in and getting stops.”

To put Tuesday’s loss into perspective, the Celtics were missing three of their top six rotation players in Jayson Tatum (left ankle impingement), Kemba Walker (left oblique strain) and Robert Williams (left knee soreness), forcing the team to test out its 29th unique starting lineup of the season. Fortunately, all three of those guys should be back by the end of the week, which will hopefully allow the team to continue developing the chemistry that Brown mentioned.

“We’ve had some guys out. We’ve had some guys injured. It hasn’t been an easy season,” said Brown. “But I believe in this organization, I believe in the guys in this locker room, I think we can find that fight. I know we can do it. I know people are tired of hearing it, but until we show up every single night it’s going to be tough. We can’t wait until the playoffs. Now is the time.”

Now is not the time to get hung up on a four-point loss, especially with another game against Charlotte tipping off in less than 24 hours.

“I'm not going to dwell on it,” head coach Brad Stevens said, turning the page from Tuesday night’s loss. “I'm going to get ready for tomorrow night's game. That's our option right now – to try to play as well as we can here with 10 games left starting tomorrow night.”

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