Coach Brad Stevens opened his comments about the Celtics’ team meeting by expressing a tinge of regret.
“I wish we would have gotten out of there quicker,” he said Sunday afternoon, less than 48 hours after players and members of the coaching staff had congregated to discuss the group’s recent struggles.
The impromptu conversation kept the Celtics’ locker room closed an additional 20 minutes following the final buzzer of Friday night’s 120-107 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, which Stevens acknowledged may have impacted reporters working on deadline. The delay, however, gave the team an opportunity to voice frustrations in an effort to pinpoint what has been behind their unsatisfactory play.
“It was probably better to have that transparent talk in the locker room, you know, amongst us, prior to meeting everybody with their recorders,” Stevens said.
At 18-13, the Celtics have yet to demonstrate they’re worthy of the preseason adulation that dubbed them a heavy favorite to come out of the East and challenge the Golden State Warriors. While there have been flashes — their net rating (5.9) ranks fourth in the league — there have also been several disappointing performances, including a home loss to the bottom-dwelling Phoenix Suns.
“We’ve had our moments,” Stevens said. “We’ve had our ups and downs.”
Friday’s meeting has the potential to be a turning point for the Celtics, who have had the easiest schedule, based on opponents’ winning percentages, thus far this season. Stevens said the team had an hour-and-a-half discussion at the Auerbach Center Saturday, and as forward Jaylen Brown indicated, more could be needed.
Meetings in closed-door environments are by no means unusual in the NBA. Like Stevens noted, they happen all the time; some are just “more impactful, more transparent, and a little bit more raw than others.”
“I think those are probably the most memorable, enjoyable, and purposeful times when you reflect back on the season,” Stevens said. “If done right, those are really good, and our guys did it right.”
Stevens, who vouched for being “a listener as long as you can be a listener,” called the conversation was “well-intentioned” and controlled. He likened the meeting to the start of Festivus — a fake holiday from the TV series “Seinfeld” that begins with the airing of grievances.
“Then they end with hugs,” he said. “It’s just like any other family meeting.”