Malcolm Brogdon makes troubling admission about Celtics' mindset entering Thunder game

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Brogdon's admission about how Celtics approached OKC game is troubling originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics didn't respect their opponent Tuesday night, and they paid dearly for it.

The Celtics entered Oklahoma City with the NBA's best record to take on a lottery-bound Thunder team that had lost two straight and three of four. About 90 minutes before tip-off, the C's learned OKC would be without star point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who's averaging 30.8 points per game and is by far the team's most talented player.

Sounds like an easy win, right? Apparently that's what the Celtics thought -- before the Thunder embarrassed them in a 150-117 rout.

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"We took a deep breath and relaxed," Boston point guard Malcolm Brogdon admitted to The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn about the team's reaction to Gilgeous-Alexander not playing. "Honestly we should know better than to come out and not play with aggression, not play with energy and urgency."

It's one thing to be relieved that your opponent won't have its star player, but it's pretty eye-opening that the Celtics blatantly let their guard down Tuesday night -- and that Brogdon admitted as much.

The Celtics clearly played without an edge Tuesday, allowing the scrappy Thunder to deliver their best offensive performance of the season. OKC shot a blistering 59.2 percent from the floor and got open looks all night, while five Thunder players scored at least 20 points to make history at Boston's expense.

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"Like I referenced after the Phoenix game (a 125-98 win over the Suns on Dec. 7), you have to play with a sense of humility every night knowing your opponent wants to beat you," head coach Joe Mazzulla said after the game. "We have to match that and we didn’t. We got outplayed in every aspect of the game."

Celtics star Jaylen Brown echoed Brogdon's sentiments, suggesting the C's deserved Tuesday's stomping.

"We got our ass kicked. That's what happened," Brown said. "You come out, you take it for granted and that's what happens. We probably had it coming to us. Came out the last couple of games, we pick and choose when we want to play."

The Celtics are arguably the best team in the NBA when they're engaged and knocking down shots. But over the last two-and-a-half weeks -- during which they've gone 5-7 with losses to the Orlando Magic (twice), Indiana Pacers and Thunder -- they've learned they can lose to anyone if they don't show up.

We'll find out if that lesson landed Thursday night when the C's visit the Dallas Mavericks.