In the aftermath of the Celtics’ 139-107 victory over the Lakers on Monday night, there was a constant theme all around the locker room.
Boston was in danger of dropping down to the No. 6 seed at the beginning of the night with a loss to the class of the Western Conference and while no win over LeBron James or Anthony Davis can ever be expected even when the team is at its best, a sloppy performance would be unacceptable after three straight ugly defeats.
“We needed to play well,” Brad Stevens said. “That doesn’t guarantee results. ... That doesn’t guarantee you’re going to make shots and things are going to go your way. But we put the ball in the basket quite a bit.”
“We needed it,” Kemba Walker said. “This is a really important game for us, and we treated it like it.”
With Walker and Jaylen Brown back in the lineup after injuries kept them sidelined on Saturday night and a day off taking away a fatigue problem, there would be no excuses for this group on Monday. The good vibes of a hot start and surprise 10-game winning streak had faded away with six losses in the last eight games. The Celtics were losing to both good and bad teams while looking like a punchless group at times on both ends. In response, Stevens put everyone’s feet to the fire in a film session on Sunday to address the defensive slippage. Every single play in the session was sent focusing on the defensive end with the entire team taking accountability in the setting directly, according to players.
“It was eye-opening for us,” Semi Ojeleye told BSJ. “Everybody involved in the play spoke about what we did