Boston Celtics

Feb 26, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) and guard Jaylen Brown (7) and center Al Horford (42) talk during a break in the action against the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena. Toronto defeated Boston. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub

No point in mincing words: the Celtics are gutless.

Could that change? Sure, at least in theory, but there’s absolutely nothing to indicate that any sort of change is coming. To win games against good competition in any sport, you have to show up for work with, as one expression goes, your lunch sack. And so pardon the tactless word play, but the Celtics don’t have one.

These are the latest facts: the Celtics showed up for a quarter last night in Toronto, then got their doors blown off in a 118-95 defeat that wasn’t remotely that close. The Celtics trailed by as many as 31 and were outscored 65-30 during a decisive stretch of play that made them look like the basketball equivalent of the Bad News Bears.

Pinch your nose, folks.


“I thought we were outplayed in every which way,” coach Brad Steven told reporters. “I don’t want to take away from Toronto, but am I thrilled about how we played? No. We have to be a lot more connected as a team. It’s been a theme for a while.”

Well, at least the Celtics have that much right.

Meanwhile, Kyrie Irving was asked about Stevens’ assessment that the Celtics are taking too many shortcuts on defense and gave the equivalent of Don’t look at me.

”I don’t know,” Irving said. ”It’s up to Brad.”

Could this all change? Sure. In theory. But it doesn’t feel realistic. A star player redirecting questions to the coach is a bad sign, whether it’s Red Sox pitcher David Price referring to “Manager John” or former Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas telling reporters to “Go ask Bill – he has all the answers.” The Celtics are tired of talking to and listening to each other, and that’s been true for some time.

The bottom line: they don’t like each other. Or at least it doesn’t feel that way. At a minimum, the Celtics can’t agree on what is the best way to win, which suggests a massive leadership and character problem – and disconnect. You can blame Kyrie, Stevens, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge or anyone in between – and you’d be right. This season has been a (expletive) show from pretty much the start.

Feb 26, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka (9) dunks against Boston Celtics center Robert Williams (44) during the first half at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Here in Boston, we have obviously been spoiled rotten during this extraordinary century. One of the real benefits of that is that we know what a winner looks like – whether or not the end result is a championship. The current Bruins probably won’t win the Stanley Cup, but they are a true team. They play for each other. They pull for each other. Last year, Brad Marchand concussed Marcus Johansson with a shot to the head when the latter played for the New Jersey Devils. This week, the Bruins traded for Johansson and the two quickly made peace, each producing points in the surging Bruins’ 4-1 win last night over the San Jose Sharks.

The whole process took hours or maybe days.

The Celtics? They’ve been at it for weeks and months now, and the gap between them seems to be widening. They play selfishly. They play lazily. At the moment, they represent everything Boston teams have not been over the last 20 years or so, whether the standard is unrealistic or not.

Embarrassed? Don’t be.

That emotion belongs mostly to the players wearing green, on their backs and on their faces.

Green is the color of envy, gentlemen.

And as we’ve been told before, it is often an incurable disease.

You can hear Tony Massarotti weekdays from 2-6 p.m. EST on the Felger & Massarotti program. Follow him on Twitter @TonyMassarotti.