It took a little while for it to become crystal clear the Celtics would have a more challenging 2018-19 season than everyone initially expected. Obviously, they were only able to overcome their in-house issues so much, losing to the Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the second round of the NBA Playoffs, essentially becoming the laughing stock of Boston’s major four sports teams.
Early on, Gordon Hayward’s play seemed to be part of the issue. He hadn’t quite bounced back in the manner many expected. But even then, it didn’t seem like there was a significant team issue until they held a meeting after the same Bucks team embarrassed them 120-107 on December 21.
Apparently, the Celtics knew they were going to have problems long before that. Or maybe Terry Rozier just knew before everyone else did. Because he told ESPN’s Mike Greenberg on Tuesday’s edition of “Get Up!” he knew the Celtics were going to have problems reintegrating Kyrie Irving and Hayward after roughly five games.
“Once you (saw) all the talent we had, all the pieces, guys trying to figure out their role and guys trying to do less of what would have helped this team win, just for the team they (were) trying to less,” Rozier said. “You (could) already see it in the first five games of the season.”
In reality, identifying the problem so early should have been a good thing. First step to solving your problem is identifying there is one, or something like that. But you might as well ignore the problem if you can’t fix, which turned out to be the real issue for the Celtics.
Look, there’s no shot Rozier was alone in seeing the problem this early — if he truly picked up on it that quickly. He may have had more reason to be upset than anyone on the roster, but he’s not the only observant individual on the team.
As Rozier delved into the issues further, he reinforced the point we were already led to believe: the “young guys” wanted to do it their way, Irving wanted to do it his.
“I think we all had that ultimate goal,” Rozier said. “I think guys, me, Jayon (Tatum), Jalen (Brown), we had a terrific postseason last year and I think we (were) trying to come in and do the same thing this year.”
But the issues run deeper than that. Rozier gave some insight as to what went on with Brad Stevens and Irving, as well.
In the course of the interview, Rozier said Irving was a “great guy, great leader,” but that teammates “have to adjust to his style,” because, “Whatever Kyrie wants done he’s going to show it, that’s what he wants done. And you have to adjust to his style of play and how he goes about every game and every day.”
Couple that with Rozier stating there was a change in game plan from practice to the games almost regularly and it’s easy to connect the dots.
“I think we all felt good about it, having practice, our discussions, film talk, but then every time we (would) get in the game, it’s just like, I wouldn’t say we wouldn’t follow the game plan, but it’d be different,” Rozier said.
(Lastly, in my post about the Knicks being interested Rozier, I wrote he “pretty much went full-Mad Queen,” but not full-fledged “scorched Earth like Khaleesi.” Yeah, now he’s going full-Mad Queen.)