After every single bit of Boston Celtics' early-season drama got publicized -- from coach calling out players to teammates going at each other in post-game press conferences -- the players decided to deal with their issues internally.
Ahead of Wednesday's 92-79 win over the Magic, the Celtics' held a players-only meeting after a disappointing, controversy-filled start to the season. The meeting, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, was initiated as a result of Boston's fourth-quarter meltdown Monday against Chicago, followed by Marcus Smart'spost-game bashing of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown -- he called them out for not willing to pass the ball.
The three of them discussed both the collapse and Smart's comments in an environment that, according to Basketball News, got emotional at times. And while it's not clear exactly what was said during the meeting, judging by yesterday's win in Orlando to snap a three-game losing streak, it seems to have worked in the short term.
"The last few days, we've just been focused on Orlando," Brown said after the game. "That was the goal: Come out, try to get a win. That was it. Team meeting, just an opportunity to talk as a group, get some communication going in, and move forward."
Despite keeping the content of the meeting a secret, Brown did address Smart's comments after a historically bad loss to the Bulls -- the 1st time in the shot-clock era (since 1954-55) that a team lost by 14+ points after leading by 14+ entering the 4th quarter, according to ESPN Stats&Info.
Obviously in the midst of trying to win games, it's something that we probably didn't need. But we all communicate and talk to each other. So we're always trying to find ways to win and I'm open to any and everything when guys bring it to me, coaching staff. I'm always watching film trying to better myself and be a better basketball player and find ways to make my teammates better. So it felt good to get a win today.
Jaylen Brown, ESPN
Can the Celtics bounce back?
After beating Orlando, the Celtics are now 3-5, sitting as the 12 seed in the East. Their disappointing start to the season has been overshadowed by internal troubles, but after addressing those in yesterday's meeting, the Cs should be ready to turn things around. Talent-wise, their team should be much better than 3-5. But each of their most important contributors has in some way been affected by early-season struggles.
Despite averaging 24.3 points per game, Jayson Tatum is having his most inefficient shooting run from the floor (38.3%) and three-point line (27.1%). Brown dropped 46 in a season opener against the Knicks but has been inconsistent since -- Ime Udoka described some of his drop-offs as "mind boggling." Smart is only shooting 30.3% from the floor, and Dennis Schröder, despite averaging 13.3 PPG off the bench, is struggling with efficiency as well (36.3% FG).
Each of these guys should play better. The Celtics defense should be better -- their defensive rating is only 18th, despite having a top-level defensive talent on the roster. Their first-year NBA coach should also be better. But it's only been a few years, and Udoka, as well as the entire Celtics organization, deserve more time.
What we've seen thus far is troubling. But there is enough talent in Boston to turn things around.