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LOS ANGELES – The Boston Celtics are exactly where they want to be as a franchise: they’re so good that a measly three-game losing streak has made it feel as if the sky is falling down around them.
Well, at least to those outside of the locker room.
Those inside the locker room have quite a different perspective. They display a calm demeanor and budding confidence while discussing their recent “struggles.”
Head coach Brad Stevens, for instance, senses that the Celtics are eager to rally and resurface to their winning ways, beginning tonight in Los Angeles against the rival Lakers.
“Just being around these guys as we traveled out here, as we watched film yesterday, as a lot of guys came over and shot yesterday,” he said, “there’s an anxiousness to play, as there should be.”
Boston’s top two players, Al Horford and Kyrie Irving, meanwhile, view the last three games as a learning experience that will set them up for success in the long haul. As Irving put it, “We need to go through this. It’s a necessity to build camaraderie and build trust in one another.”
The “this” that Irving alluded to was the team’s worst week of play this season. The last week featured Boston’s first three-game losing streak of the 2017-18 campaign. Amid the drought, the Celtics struggled on offense at times, they struggles on defense at times, and during many moments, they simultaneously struggled at both ends of the court.
Yet both players still view this adversity as a positive. Horford and Irving each used the word “opportunity” to describe their team’s current situation.
“We need to be more committed to all of the little things,” Horford said Tuesday morning before Boston’s shootaround. “We have done it at times, but we haven’t been very consistent this past week. So we have a great opportunity tonight to make strides in that area.”
Irving, meanwhile, spoke more of the bigger picture.
“We’re still learning and evolving,” he explained. “It’s fun at the same time (despite losing), but going through it always feels like it’s worse. But it’s always a great opportunity to redeem yourself and respond, and I think that we have the talent to do so and also the will to do so.”
That’s an important belief. Every team in the NBA goes through struggles at some point during the season. However, not every team has the talent and will to pull itself out of a damaging rut.
The Celtics are undoubtedly in the middle of a rut, and everyone is noticing. The amount of damage these struggles will cause in the long term is yet to be determined, but the people inside Boston’s locker room believe that this stretch will be more helpful than hurtful when all is said and done.
“Losing sucks, obviously,” said Irving. “… You’ve just got to figure it out.”
Another opportunity for the Celtics to do so arrives tonight in Los Angeles.