The Celtics are improving, but Saturday’s loss to the Cavs a reminder of growing pains from top to bottom

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The Boston Celtics were fully in command of their road contest with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday before another major late collapse sent the Celtics back into possession of a losing record, with the 91 – 89 loss dropping Boston to 6 – 7 for the season.

Bad defense, poor shooting, low effort in the second half, a lack of respect for their opponent and players being out injured are all factors contributing to the loss, but head coach Ime Udoka put his finger on the primary cause of the collapse while speaking with the media after the game that night.

According to the coach, the team was “stagnant on offense in the fourth quarter, (allowing) 8 second-chance points rebounds, especially at the end of the game.”

He isn’t wrong. But, there’s something to be said for shouldering some blame for keeping in a bunch of players you have not given consistent playing time to when it is clear they lack the cohesion and reps to hold their own against a squad loading up for a unified push with plenty more run together.

“Guys have got to step up,” according to Udoka. “We have guys playing heavy minutes and some guys out, everybody else has to step up, we can’t over-run everyone.”

This is also true, but more consistent minutes for the players who lost that lead might have given them a foundation to scale up from rather than finding themselves thrown into the fire.

And those players playing heavy minutes? They’d have been playing less to begin with. It’s certainly a balancing act to manage the exigencies of developing young players, keeping veterans fresh, and giving guys more definite roles from which they grow the team’s capabilities.

But getting that mix right is part of the formula for winning, and on Saturday, the slow reaction from the coaching staff to Cleveland’s push was as much of a factor as anything else contributing to the loss.

Growing pains for a new head coach are to be expected, and frankly, there will almost certainly be more such errors.

But if accountability is to be the watchword of the Celtics this season, it needs to start at the top.

This post originally appeared on Celtics Wire. Follow us on Facebook!

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