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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Basketball

Marcus Morris: Even opposing coaches want to know what’s wrong with Celtics

Marcus Morris

The Boston Celtics cannot seem to gain any momentum as they limp into the playoffs, and their players are running out of explanations for what might be wrong with the team.

After the Celtics were dismantled at home by the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night, Marcus Morris was asked about losing a fourth consecutive game with the postseason just a few weeks away. He didn’t really have a response, and he indicated even opposing coaches have been surprised with how poorly Boston has played.

Considering Morris has been one of the most outspoken players this season when the Celtics have struggled, that is quite telling. You can only come up with so many excuses for having the talent that they have and not performing consistently.

Many people feel that the Celtics are just coasting through the regular season waiting for the playoffs to start, but it seems like one behind-the-scenes problem after another for this team. Kyrie Irving recently took a shot at Brad Stevens and the coaching staff when he criticized Boston’s defensive schemes, and he has seemingly been pointing the finger all season. If team chemistry is important, the Celtics are in big trouble entering the playoffs.

Brad Stevens acknowledges frustration in Celtics’ locker room

Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens acknowledged there is frustration among the Boston Celtics following the team’s fourth straight loss.

The Celtics lost at home 115-96 to the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday. Their losing streak includes defeats to Denver, at Philly and Charlotte, and now the Spurs.

Stevens took longer than usual to show for his postgame press conference and told reporters the players talked and aired some frustrations.

This has been the theme all season long for Boston. They may make the playoffs with a fairly high seed, but they’re not going anywhere with the kind of inconsistency and disharmony they’ve had. Just on Saturday, Kyrie Irving was questioning the coaches over a defensive gameplan.

Watch: This Jeremy Lamb game-winning shot was insane

Jeremy Lamb

The wildest basketball shot of the day did not come in the NCAA Tournament, but rather at the end of the Charlotte Hornets-Toronto Raptors game.

The Hornets had an inbounds situation down 114-112 with 3.1 seconds left. They passed to Jeremy Lamb, who lost the handle and picked up the ball behind halfcourt. He then threw up a heave that somehow banked in:

Unreal.

This stat says a lot about the winning shot:

Lamb had 13 points on 5/11 shooting in the 115-114 win. The Hornets barely remain in the playoff race at 34-39 and sit two games behind the Miami Heat for the eighth spot in the East.

Brad Stevens responds to Kyrie Irving criticizing Celtics’ defensive schemes

Brad Stevens

If Kyrie Irving was trying to start a fire with his comments over the weekend, Brad Stevens is putting it out real quick.

Speaking with the media on Sunday, the Boston Celtics head coach responded to Irving’s criticisms of the team’s defensive schemes following a 124-117 loss to the sub-.500 Charlotte Hornets the day before. Stevens said simply that he had no problem with the All-Star guard’s remarks and was not too caught up in them, per Jay King of The Athletic.

Saturday’s defeat was particularly bitter for the Celtics, who have now gone just 6-9 since the All-Star break, as they blew an 18-point fourth quarter lead to the 33-39 Hornets. Irving was especially displeased with the way that the team defended Hornets star Kemba Walker.

That said though, Boston still ranks a solid sixth in the league on the year in defensive efficiency, per ESPN. Thus, their struggles right now may have less to do with that side of the ball and more to do with overall team chemistry.

Watch: Tacko Fall off to hot start against Duke, Zion Williamson

Tacko Fall

Tacko Fall got off to a hot start in his heavily-hyped matchup against Zion Williamson on Sunday.

UCF and Duke squared off in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. All the talk leading up to the game was about Williamson facing the 7-foot-6 UCF big man and whether Zion would be able to dunk on the center, or vice versa.

Fall got a couple of dunks early in the game and also sort of blocked Williamson.

The funny part is Javin DeLaurier spent most of the time guarding Fall for Duke, not Williamson, who was guarding Collin Smith. The media and TV folks wanted you to think it was just those two squaring off though.

Fall took a seat after committing his second foul in the first half, which slowed UCF’s momentum.

LeBron James issues promise to Lakers fans after disappointing season

LeBron James

There have been some wild rumors thrown around about the Los Angeles Lakers potentially looking to trade LeBron James this offseason, but the four-time NBA MVP clearly does not envision that happening.

The Lakers were officially eliminated from postseason contention for the sixth consecutive season with a loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night, marking the first time since 2005 that LeBron will not play in a playoff game. Over the weekend, James took to social media to promise Laker Nation that “the spell won’t last much longer.”

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LeBron carried some bad teams to the postseason in Cleveland, but he was unable to do that in his first season with the Lakers. The bigger concern is that he dealt with a significant injury for the first time in his career, which some think has to do with his age (34) and body of work. The groin injury may have seemed relatively minor given that he did not miss a ton of time, but his physical therapist recently shared some troubling details about it.

The Lakers should be able to put together a team that’s good enough to reach the postseason, but they may need to add another superstar to get there. That will be their top priority this summer, and even that might not make them good enough to contend for a title.

Jason Kidd reportedly expected to be serious candidate for Lakers job

Jason Kidd

The Cal Golden Bears are expected to make a strong pursuit to hire Jason Kidd as their next head basketball coach, but their ability to land him will be challenging.

According to ESPN’s Marc J. Spears, Kidd wants to return to the NBA and may prefer to see what opens up. To that end, Adrian Wojnarowski says Kidd will be a serious candidate for the Los Angeles Lakers job if they fire Luke Walton.

Walton is almost certainly going to be fired, so whether they hire Kidd becomes the question.

Kidd coached the Brooklyn Nets in the 2013-14 season and then was traded to Milwaukee. He coached the Bucks for 3.5 seasons before being fired midway through last year. The Bucks have surged without him and become the top team in the East this year.

Still, Kidd is a respected former player who was known for his on-court smarts during his playing days. He would probably command more respect from a star player like LeBron James. And while Cal may pursue him, coaching in college is a big difference from the NBA. In the NBA you’re dealing with pros and mostly focusing on basketball and managing players and the media. In college, you have to recruit, hit the AAU circuit, and deal with school administrators and boosters/fund raisers. He might prefer the pros.