Stevens Unwilling To Let Players Take Blame

WALTHAM, Mass. – Celtics players have attempted to take the blame for Monday night’s loss to the Charlotte Bobcats. Brad Stevens is having none of it.

“I really appreciate the fact that those guys would say that,” Stevens said prior to Tuesday morning’s practice, “but a coach’s job is to have a team put their best foot forward.

“It doesn’t mean you’re going to win every game. It doesn’t mean you’re going to play perfectly. It doesn’t mean you’re going to do every little thing right. But our best foot wasn’t put forward and that is a coach’s first and foremost responsibility.”

By using the term ‘best foot forward,’ Stevens was referencing his team playing with effort and energy from start to finish. Those characteristics were not on display Monday night against the Charlotte Hornets.

“We got out-hustled. We got out-played,” said Stevens. “It’s not an acceptable thing for any of us. It starts with me.”

One has to wonder why this has become an issue for Boston as of late. After all, this is a team that has been commended by nearly every opposing coach over the past two seasons for how hard it plays every night. That was a defining characteristic of this team, but it has somehow disappeared over the course of the past two weeks.

Asked why such has been the case, Jeff Green responded candidly.

“Getting content,” he said. “Winning a few games and getting content with that. I think we dropped our play. That comes with the long season, and when you win a couple of games you think it’s going to come easy the next game, and I think we lost our focus a little bit.”

Boston had won six of nine contests from Dec.3 to Dec. 19. Since Dec.21, it has gone 1-7, including four losses that reached blowout status during the second half.

The recent stretch of losses happens to coincide with the date in which the Celtics and Mavericks pulled off a five-player trade. Boston just hasn’t looked like the same team since.

Jameer Nelson, an 11-year veteran who was a part of that trade, watched the Celtics’ two most recent losses from the sideline with a sprained right ankle. The point guard has seen exactly what his coach has seen: a lack of effort.

“You can’t give up the amount of offensive rebounds and loose balls that we give up. You can’t be lackadaisical with the ball,” he said. “We have to value the ball offensively and we have to be tenacious defensively and be there for one another.”

Nelson also revealed that he delivered a similar message to his teammates on Monday.

“Like I told guys yesterday, you don’t have to execute every play well. You don’t have to get there defensively, because you’re going to make mistakes,” Nelson said. “But as long as you play hard – if you play harder than the other team you won’t be down 20 every other game and you’ll give yourself a chance.”

The Celtics have failed to play harder than the opponent for the majority of the last two weeks, and Stevens is taking full blame for that fact. He says it is his job to get this team to play hard each and every night.

Boston’s next opportunity to do so arrives on Wednesday, when it takes on the Nets in Brooklyn. If the C’s come out and play well, we won’t need to discuss who is to blame. Instead, we’ll be able to talk about who deserves credit, and that’s much more enjoyable for all parties involved.

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