LOS ANGELES — On the same day that word trickled out about a Cleveland Cavaliers‘ finger-pointing team meeting, the Boston Celtics huddled in Los Angeles on Monday to discuss their own struggles and privately resolved to work together to overcome one of the first rough patches the team has encountered this season.
Celtics players acknowledged their meeting after Wednesday’s 113-102 triumph over the LA Clippers snapped Boston’s four-game losing streak. But pressed for details, players were measured with their words and stressed the positive nature of the gathering.
“I’m trying to think about the right thing to say before it gets misconstrued,” Kyrie Irving said after a long pause following a question about the meeting. “Team meetings, it happens all the time. We could call every time we meet a team meeting. And throughout your professional career there are going to be times where you’re tested. And for us it was things that we can control and everyone being great at their role, and us collectively coming together even better as a group.
“When you’re hitting a lull of losing games, you can tend to go your own direction and try to figure it out on your own. For us, we have great leadership at the top with [coach] Brad [Stevens], and he echoes a message to us leaders on the team, and then we go out there and try to maximize that opportunity of getting better every single day. And I think that we did a great job of just putting everything out on the table. And it’s just about being professional and going out there and executing.”
The Celtics arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday night having dropped three straight games for the first time all season. The team scrapped a scheduled practice Monday, but players huddled to discuss the team’s recent woes.
Boston fell to the Lakers on Tuesday night, but players emerged encouraged by the progress shown on the court. Despite playing without two of their top five rotation players Wednesday in Al Horford (head) and Marcus Smart (hand), the Celtics put together one of their best offensive performances of the past month while taking down a Clippers team that was welcoming back DeAndre Jordan.
“We just all had a meeting and we talked about a lot of things that we can get better at,” said guard Terry Rozier, who scored 15 points off the bench in Wednesday’s win. “We were struggling, but it was good to get a win today. Just hopefully we can pick it back up and just stay positive and go up from here.”
Asked about the emphasis of Monday’s team meeting, Rozier suggested the Celtics avoided any finger-pointing and instead kept the focus on the group as a whole.
“Just group things. Sometimes when you have them talks within your brothers, you don’t want it to get out, but it’s nothing personal,” Rozier said. “It’s just something that we all just have to get better at. We talked about things that we can just get better at as a group.”
Pressed further on the points of emphasis in the meeting, Rozier deadpanned, “Play better as a group.” Then laughed while noting, “Y’all trying to get something out of me?”
Stevens has stressed to his players that they cannot overreact to results and has tried to keep the focus on simply improving each day.
“It’s a hard league. You’re going to have your ups and downs, it’s a marathon,” Stevens said. “We were really fortunate to win 16 games in a row earlier this year and we could have lost about 11 of them. So, sometimes things go your way, sometimes they don’t.”
Still, there seemed to be relief in Boston’s locker room after Wednesday’s triumph.
Said Irving: “We like this feeling better than losing, I’ll tell you that.”