HOPE EVERYONE had a great Thanksgiving!!!
Brad Stevens didn’t need many words to sum up the current state of his Celtics.
“I just don’t know that we’re that good,” Stevens said after Wednesday night’s loss to the 4-14 Knicks. “It’s not a wakeup call if you keep getting beat. We have to play better. And it’s not because we’re not capable of being good, it’s not because we weren’t good at one time in our lives. You’re good if you play good, and, I mean, the results are speaking for themselves.” “I just don’t know if we’re that good ... the results are speaking for themselves.”
If you’ve forgotten your recent Celtics history, last season saw Gordon Hayward go down for the year in the first half of the first quarter of his first game with his new team. Boston lost its first two games — and then won 16 in a row to get to 16-2 through 18 games.
Wednesday night, they fell to 9-9 in THIS season’s first 18.
They were booed, semi quietly at first, in the first half, then more loudly at halftime. They trailed by 26 in the first half and then by 16 with four minutes left, before a comeback against a collapsing 4-14 team fell just short.
Walt Frazier was in the building, but he was broadcasting the game and doesn’t play anymore (even though he told some great stories before the game about the way Red Auerbach used to treat visiting players). He doesn’t play for this young Knicks team that is trying to find its way — and really could be 2-0 against Stevens’ team that did escape the game at MSG last month.
“We just can’t wait anymore, honestly,” Kyrie Irving said. “You know for myself, everyone else as a collective, our coaching staff, we don’t have time to really be waiting and to kind of see if guys are going to give that extra effort, including myself. It’s just an accountability standpoint that we all have to have, and I think that we are making steps in the right direction, you know, I just think that it’s just tiring at this point when we show flashes of brilliance and then we put ourselves in this deep hole and we’re consistently coming back and we can’t play like that.
“I think at this point, it’s just tiring,” Irving continued. “It’s just no more time to wait. It’s not that I’m pushing the panic button or anything like that, I just think there’s no more time to wait for games to start off like that and go down in a hole where even our home crowd is getting antsy and guys are pressing and stuff like that.”
They gave up 117 points in the third straight loss. After leading the league in defense in October, they have allowed 108.4 points per game while going 4-7 in November, holding one of the 11 opponents under 98 points, two under 100.
Brian Scalabrine tweeted Stevens could be heard in the huddle telling guards they’ll sit if they don’t play defense, which brings us to Terry Rozier.
This has been said here before, but Rozier was a star at the end of last season with Irving out. Rozier is now a role player, and to say he has not adjusted would be an understatement. There was a tweet he had to explain his way out of the other day — and Wednesday night he played 15:52, failing to score, missing four shots, one a 3-pointer, no assists, a turnover and a minus-15. And this came on another night the Celts were devoured by an opposing guard, this time Trey Burke off the bench.
Rozier is a mess. Jaylen Brown is a mess. Hayward is rounding into shape, learning to survive through the limitations created by his serious injury. They don’t shoot free throws well.
As far as the guard play, column pal Larry Rosoff suggests the need for Shane Larkin, for Larkin’s defense. Larkin is playing in Turkey, where he was averaging eight points in six games with Anadolu Efes of the European League. But this has to be about more than Shane Larkin. NBA defense is team defense, and this TEAM isn’t playing any.
The Celtics start a three-game trip in Atlanta tonight, which means another guard: rookie Trey Young averaging 16.2 points and 8.1 assists per game.
Then, it’s on to Dallas and New Orleans, the latter sparking the constant Anthony Davis-to-Boston hopes.
Let’s see where this team is when it returns home.
Let’s see if this is the same roster when it returns home. Remember, trades for stars (Bradley Beal?) are very difficult because the money has to match up.
After the latest loss, Irving was in no mood to be festive for the holiday. Couple the loss with the fact his mother was a descendant of the Standing Rock Sioux before being adopted and he greeted “Happy Thanksgiving” with “Bleep Thanksgiving.”
Thursday, he took to Twitter to apologize, tweeting, “I spoke w/ frustration after last night’s game and spoke words that shouldn’t be in a professional setting no matter what,” and “Meant no disrespect to the holiday and those who celebrate it respectfully. I’m grateful for the time We all can share with our families. We are always ONE.”
Finding a home
Noah Vonleh, the New Hampton School product from Haverhill, Mass., is playing for his fourth NBA team in four years. He may be a Knick for awhile.
Tuesday night, Vonleh delivered 14 points and 14 rebounds in a narrow loss to Portland, the leaders of the West. Wednesday night, in front of family and friends, he dominated early and finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots. He was a plus-5.
He also went 4-for-7 from 3-point range in the two games after making five treys to that point in the season.
We told you Larkin is in Turkey on Turkey Day. How about some other ex-Celtics?
Brian Smith, who tracks all this stuff overseas, provided updates Wednesday on Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass and Al Jefferson, all playing in China.
Smith on Sullinger, according to a source, “He’ll be back in the NBA. Dominating in China.” In great shape, Sullinger is averaging 27.4 points and 13 rebounds per game while Bass was at 22/6.0 and Jefferson 15/7.5. Jefferson was also 5-for-12 on 3-pointers, after going 8-for-66 in his NBA career.
With the Jets awaiting the Patriots Sunday, the New York Daily News did a “Weak End At Gronkie’s” cover aimed at the big fella’s seemingly declining skills.
Writer Manish Mehta tweeted: “Ravaged by injuries, Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski is toast...”
In his piece, Mehta wrote”If you love football, you want to remember Rob Gronkowski the way that he should be remembered: Strong, powerful and leaping tall buildings in a single bound.
“You want to see him crush poor saps unlucky enough to be assigned to tackle him in the open field. You want to see him chugging — and spiking — beers on a parade float. You want to witness his God-awful dance moves as he tries to pry a smile out of Lord Vader on the sideline.
“Alas, that Gronk is gone, replaced by this prideful, wobbly 6-6, 268-pound dude plodding along like some tip-calculator-carrying resident of Del Boca Vista. His body is 29 going on 92. Watching him run around on the few fall Sundays that he’s actually available is cringe-worthy stuff.”
The Pats play two of their last six games against the 3-7 Jets.
Caught in the middle
Let’s get this straight: J.D. Martinez was a DH too much of the time to finished second in the MVP voting. He then became the first player ever to win the Silver Slugger at both OF (57 games) and DH. Then, he loses the award as the top DH (to Khris Davis) because he played too many games in the outfield.
Our pal Chris Smith of MassLive reports Jason Groome, the Sox pitching prospect who had Tommy John surgery six months ago, is already throwing. “November 19th 2018 — wow what a ride it’s been to get to this day,” Groome said via social media. “So many mixed emotions day in and day out. It’s been 240 days since I’ve injured my arm and 188 days since my surgery, I know this is just another step closer to the comeback but today is a day I’ve been working so hard to get to!”
Finally, we give you the Bruins on this holiday weekend, scrapping and clawing to stay afloat as a M*A*S*H* unit. Now, if they can figure out a way to score in overtime.
Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.