The Boston Celtics, who have a team-record 18 game home winning streak at TD Garden, blew their biggest lead of the year and fell to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night. Ime Udoka ripped into his former team after they dropped yet another big blowout in embarrassing fashion.
He said that this lack of mental toughness is what led to the trade for Kyrie Irving earlier in the season and will likely be why LeBron James leaves next summer as well.
The Boston Celtics had a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers, but blew it. Ime Udoka took to Twitter and ripped into the team for their lack of mental toughness after blowing another huge lead. Read more in detail here: celtics gm.
12:00:54 A.M. ET
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps
NEW YORK (WABC) — Coach Ime Udoka frequently chastised his players for a lack of mental toughness after the Boston Celtics squandered their latest lead of the season in a painful 108-105 loss to the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
After Knicks player RJ Barrett’s banked-in 3-pointer at the buzzer capped a 25-point Knicks rally to surprise the Celtics, Udoka observed, “I believe it’s a lack of mental fortitude to battle through those unfavorable circumstances.” “It’s all over the place, to your point. Tonight, there was a turnover, a terrible shot, a botched defensive assignment, and multiple missed rebounds.
“So there are a lot of various aspects to it. Then, as I previously said, you’ll need a soothing presence to slow things down and bring us what we want. And we all get caught up in it at times.”
This season, Boston has lost four 19-point leads, two more than any other team in the NBA, and has been one of the worst fourth-quarter teams in the league. In fourth quarters, the Celtics are 26th in offensive efficiency, 25th in defensive efficiency, and 29th in net rating, having been outscored by 8.7 points per 100 possessions.
And, with Thursday’s defeat to the Knicks, they’re tied for 11th place in the Eastern Conference with Atlanta, putting them outside of not just the playoffs but also the play-in round.
Many of the defeats that have placed the Celtics in this situation have occurred in the fourth quarter or late in games, similar to the manner they lost Thursday. Udoka said that in order for it to alter, his team’s approach in certain situations must also change.
“It’s men getting worked up over things that aren’t the end of the world,” Udoka said. “You still have a comfortable 12-point advantage, and you need to put a stop to that run.”
“We need to be able to keep track of time and score, as well as have a consistent stroke and not get caught up in the game.” In the first quarter, you must play the game differently than in the fourth quarter. When the squad is on the run, it’s not the same as when you’re being stopped and forced to flee.
“It isn’t an open gym. You can’t play the game in the same manner the whole time. So we need a better grasp of it and the kind of shot we need to end a run rather than simply getting caught up in it and having four or five players make the incorrect move, which causes it to snowball.”
The latter situation has befallen Boston (18-21) far too frequently this season, most recently in Thursday’s setback. The Celtics allowed the Knicks to surge back into the game with two different extended runs in the third quarter, before New York ultimately came all the way back in the fourth quarter after dominating the game for the entire first half.
“We just have to recover,” said Celtics standout Jayson Tatum, who finished with 36 points, including a 1.5-second jumper that knotted the game for Boston at least temporarily. “Obviously, defeats, this stretch has been difficult, losing leads and not completing the fourth quarter.”
“I think we just have to look at the broad view and the large vision of things and remember those years when we were in the conference finals, and it makes you cherish those times even more.” Because it’s difficult. It’s not an easy task.
“That was probably my first year, and I just assumed that was usual. Winning all those games, especially in the playoffs, you’re probably taking it for granted. But, in order to appreciate such moments, things like this happen, and I believe it helps you appreciate them more more, knowing how difficult it is to win in this league.”
Boston is undoubtedly learning this the hard way over a long period of time. The Celtics were exactly.500 during the regular season last year, after reaching the Eastern Conference finals three times in four seasons, and are now assured to be under.500 when the season comes to a close next week.
Throughout the season, Udoka has chastised his team for its performance on the field in postgame media conferences, in direct contrast to how his predecessor, now Celtics head of basketball operations, Brad Stevens, would do so.
But his harshest critique came on Thursday, when he said flatly that his squad needed to be wiser and harder in late-and-close circumstances.
“It’s the same consequence, and it’s some type of mental toughness there,” Udoka said. “Something goes wrong, and we all start to droop our heads.”
The Celtics will now return to Boston to play the Knicks on Saturday night, when they will attempt to put their problems behind them and get their season back on track.
Celtics center Robert Williams stated, “We get rattled a lot, particularly when we’re facing adversity.” “We simply have to find the tenacity and the fight inside ourselves to come together when things don’t go our way.”
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