Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens and All-Star Kyrie Irving expressed frustrations with the team after they fell to 9-7 on the season with Saturday night’s 98-86 loss to the Utah Jazz.
“We have to build a tougher team mindset than we have,” Stevens said. “We just don’t have that mindset yet that we need.”
“I think last year, the young guys that are in the locker room now, some of the guys that are playing, they were a little bit younger,” said Irving after he scored 20 points in the loss to Utah. “They weren’t expected to do as much, and I think that the amount of pressure that we put on them to perform every single night is something that they have to get used to, being part of a great team like this.”
Jayson Tatum, one of the Celtics’ young stars, finished the game with 10 points. But no other player besides him and Irving scored in double figures for Boston.
“If you’re not playing to the standard then, as a team, we just don’t all click,” Irving continued. “I think once we get that, and we find that consistency, we’ll be good.”
“There are times when we play really tough. And then we just have, for whatever reason, moments in the game that turn into extended moments in the game when we’re not,” said Gordon Hayward, who was held to seven points against his former club. “We’ve got to figure out how we can play a full 48 minutes and then do it again the next night when we play. We’re still not there yet.”
The Celtics were just 8-for-26 from the field in the third quarter. They had to play much of the period without Irving, who fouled Mitchell on a 3-pointer with 5:40 left. Mitchell made all three from the line to put Utah up 68-55, and then Irving picked up his fifth foul just 28 seconds later.
Irving returned in the fourth, but Boston was unable to catch up. Mitchell blocked a dunk attempt by Hayward and Utah took it the other way for an alley-oop dunk by Favors from Geoges Niang to put the Jazz up 83-64 with 9:07 left to play.
Stevens had seen enough and pulled most of his starters with about eight minutes left in the fourth quarter.
“He felt like we really weren’t going anywhere,” said Al Horford, who scored nine for Boston. “It can’t only be one or two guys doing the things we all have to do and be consistent with it. […] It’s very clear that we’re concerned about shots, and our offense”
“I would say, thus far, that’s us,” Stevens said after the loss. “I mean, that’s who we’ve been.”
The Celtics will have a chance to get back on track against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.