Celtics lack leadership, mental toughness


The Celtics – who had already blasted three 19-point leads this season – outscored themselves by blowing up a 25-point lead (including a 20-point second-half lead) to the Knicks yesterday.

If you thought New York forward Julius Randle was bitter after the game, listen to Boston coach Ime Udoka.

NBC Sports Boston:

Four Boston starters have made multiple Eastern Conference finals since 2015: Al Horford (three), Marcus Smart (three), Jaylen Brown (three) and Jayson Tatum (two). Tatum, Brown and Smart led the Celtics to the conference final just two years ago.

What has Odoka gained as a head coach?

Newbie head coaches often run into problems when they are so tough in public. It’s one thing when Gregg Popovich – whom Udoka learned with Spurs from – challenges his players in the media. Popovich has proven that he can help players win at the highest level. Udoka does not have such a record.

This does not hurt Udoka. These Celtics look fractured and have had it for a while. It’s easy to see how that would translate into a lack of cohesion as the games move away from it.

But Udoka is not faultless. His relatively tight rotation in the second game in a row likely contributed to Boston’s collapse. He too often uses short shot / spacing alignments too.

Having said that, Udoka has to work with the list given to him. The Celtics don’t go overboard, especially the outside shooters.

Boston’s problems are manifold.

That’s why the Celtics’ high profile players might not appreciate that Odoka is pointing the finger at them so directly.

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