The Boston Celtics fell behind by 20 points for the third time in the past five games and Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said it's time for him to figure out how to get his team off to better starts. On Sunday, the Celtics suffered a 130-124 loss to the Miami Heat at home.
"I need to do a better job of making sure the first half doesn't get out of hand. If it's at the start or if it's in the middle or wherever. And one more thing, they're really good. So I also recognize that.
I recognize that we have our hands full in this matchup, regardless of everything. But we have to play better in that first half to give ourselves a chance," Stevens said, per ESPN. Celtics guard Evan Fournier had a game-high 30 points and also grabbed three rebounds and dished out eight assists.
"That has to come from within, from each one of us," said Evan Fournier, who had 30 points as he continues to play well after several off games in the immediate aftermath of his return from contracting COVID-19.
"There's really not much to say about it, to be honest. We just have to start individually better and do whatever to get us going. A 1 o'clock game is not an excuse at all. We just have to be better individually, period."
The Celtics played a much better defense last year
"I do think that ultimately, we've done a better job in the paint, most of the time, although there were times tonight [that we didn't]," Stevens said.
"But we're slow to react to the ball moving and we're not quite on a string at the way that a small team needs to be. Because last year, we were a little bit bigger, but we were better with our ball pressure and quicker into air space of shooters.
This year, we're a step slow." Celtics star Jayson Tatum also had a good game as he scored 29 points. "I think obviously we know how to respond," Jayson Tatum said. "We've shown that in many games.
I guess the answer is it's a choice. I don't think that we're necessarily good enough to just turn the switch on, like all right, let's play. Certain games, here and there, we've done that, and been able to win.
"Obviously today we dug ourselves a hole. We gave ourselves a chance. We're always going to do that. But I know that we can do better, do more, especially in the beginning of the games, just play with a little bit more toughness and play faster.
When we get stops in the second half we play fast and play to our advantage, and we look pretty good. So we've just got to start like that."