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Gary Washburn, Boston Globe Celtics Reporter

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May 24, 2023 9:56 pm

Gary Washburn, Boston Globe Celtics Reporter

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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May 24, 2023 9:56 pm

Gary joins Zach to talk all things Boston Celtics after their game four win. 


Boston Celtics stay alive for now.

They force a Game 5, which will be tomorrow evening at TD Garden, as this series is Miami Heat 3 and the Boston Celtics 1. Let's go out to the guest line right now and welcome in a man that covers the Boston Celtics for the Boston Globe and covers all things NBA for the Boston Globe as well, and that of course is Gary Washburn. Gary, appreciate the time. How are you? Hey, how's it going? Well, it's doing great.

Appreciate you coming on. So in Game 3, it was a horrible effort by the Boston Celtics. I thought they were going to pack it up and basically go home and they were going to lose last night.

I had a big third quarter. Were you surprised by that effort that the Celtics showed in the third quarter last night? Absolutely nothing with this team surprises me anymore. So, I mean, they could have gotten blown out last night. They could have lost a really close game with a lack of fourth quarter execution or they could have did what they actually did. Win by 17 and look like the team that everybody expected him to look like in this series in the second half. So, you know, this team is so unpredictable at this point and that's one of the reasons why they're in the position. They're in downtown 3-1.

So, I didn't know what to expect from last night. Why hasn't it just clicked for this team this year? I know everyone points to Joe Mazzulla and the Emei Udonka situation, but it just seems like that killer instinct isn't there and something's off with the Celtics this year. Well, I think last year under Udonka their main, you know, calling card was defense and they wanted to be a good defensive team, a great defensive team and then be able to score. Well, that got them to the finals. They didn't score enough in the finals to win the finals.

They were a couple of shooters short. They just, you know, they didn't know how to close out games. Offense was an issue. So, you know, fast forward to this year and they put a lot of emphasis on offense.

They brought in Malcolm Brogdon and they signed Danilo Gallinari, who obviously hasn't played this year because he tore his ACL playing for Team Italy in the World Championships, the EuroBasket and he's been out all year, but they got two guys who could score and they felt like our defense is good enough, we need to score the ball more. But what happened was the lack of emphasis on defense ended up hurting them and the defense regressed while the offense was actually pretty good throughout the year. So, they would win a lot of games by outscoring teams. They would win, you know, they led the league in point differential and they were great when they were scoring and the threes are going down. But winning these tough, rugged defensive games, that became their problem and that's just carried into the playoffs where, you know, when those shots are going down, they're the best team in the NBA. But when they got it winning game 98-92 and they got to execute, you got to get, you know, scratch out a tough win, that becomes a problem.

Gary Washburn here with us. We know how young this team is with their two stars in Jalen Brown and Jason Tatum and how many big games they've already played in. You look at Tatum, I know in game seven against the Sixers, he puts on one of the great performances, most points ever to game seven with 51. Up until last night, didn't have a made field goal in the fourth quarter in this series.

Some of those bad fourth quarters were documented in the NBA Finals last year up against Golden State. What do you think needs to change with Tatum in the fourth quarter? Because when he's on, he's incredible.

But then when he's off, it's like, wow, how the heck is this happening? Well, it's sort of a Tatum thing and a team thing. They also, they need to put them in better positions to score in the fourth quarter because Miami has a lot of teams have said, you know what, we're not letting him beat us. We're not letting him go for 51.

We're going to make anybody else take care of that. We're going to make someone else score in the fourth quarter. So they're blitzing Tatum and Tatum is sometimes forces the issue and makes mistakes. Sometimes his shot is not on. Sometimes, you know, he tries to make the right play and his teammates not hitting the shot. So I don't think it's all Tatum. I do think that there are times where his three-point shot is off. He's not the three-point shooter that he was in previous years. And as you see in game four, his three-point shot was going down.

When it's going down, it looks great. He looks like, he looks like a, you know, a top 10 three-point shooter in the league. But when it's not, that affects the rest of his game. So he's got to learn, one, how to be a more of a playmaker, which he's learning to do.

He's really improved in that category. And two, his teammates have to hit shots and also get him the ball in places where he can score. You can't just take on, you know, the mistake he was making earlier in the Miami series was trying to take on two and three defenders and dribble into the teeth of the defense and either try to make a pass or, you know, a little floater or get to the rim. And either, you know, he missed the layup, he wasn't getting a call or he wasn't, you know, finding his teammates. So it just meant, you know, kind of, you know, chaos with Celtics offense.

So I don't want to put it all on Tatum, but he needs to be better as a playmaker and the game will open up for him once he finds his teammates. You've covered this team for years. How do you describe the relationship between Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown? They're close.

They're good. I don't, I think that we tend to stereotype, what are they, generations of years? I don't know what they are, but the kids born in the 90s and now some of these guys in the league are born in the 2000s. We kind of put them all in one category. We say they're all the same guy. They all love Instagram. They all like to wear different sneakers and all that.

That's not the case. Jason and Jaylen are different people. Jason's a father.

Jaylen's a social activist. They have different interests off the floor, but on the floor they have a very healthy respect for each other. They do not dislike each other. They're not pitted against each other. They're a one-two punch that could make it and be very, very successful. They have in the NBA, you know, now do their games kind of repeat at times? Do they have kind of the same skill sets?

You could say that. So that might be the only thing that makes it to where they can't be that dynamic duo that wins multiple championships, but off the floor, their relationship is strong. They are not, you know, jealous. There's no jealousy.

There's no, there's nothing about either of them. They know how important it is for each other to flourish for them to win a championship potentially. There's so much smoke in the conversation of Jaylen Brown. And does he want to stay in Boston? He has one year left on that deal. Do you think he wants to be a Boston Celtic for that next contract? I think he wants to go wherever he feels like he's treated properly.

And I think Boston, obviously he likes playing in Boston. I think that, does he have problems with some of the, you know, social elements of the city? Does he have a problem with being in trade rumors and being the guy that people say, well, they can't trade Tatum, but they can trade Brown. Like, and I think a lot of that smoke is kind of generated outside the organization. Now, of course, like when Kevin Durant was available, did the Celtics talk to the Nets and was his name thrown in there?

Of course it was. It's Kevin Durant, you know, but we're not talking about, you're talking about a trade for a generational talent. You're not talking about a trade for a guy you feel like you're better than. So I think Jason, I'm sorry, Jaylen, sometimes you need to get over his feelings in that sense, but I do think he felt a little bit disrespected that he was being thrown into these rumors. So I think he likes Boston. I don't think it's a matter of like, he does, he's ready to get out and get me out of here. I think he wants to go where he's treated and he can be happy.

His family is up here. So it's not like, you know, he's, he's not tried to put his roots in this community. Has Boston done anything wrong in your opinion? I'm talking about the organization where he would feel that they're not treated in the right way outside of the rant thing. I think that's probably just pretty much it. I think, you know, he wants, he wants to feel like he's a cornerstone and he feels, and he feels like he's an improving player, you know? And so I don't think it's like a situation where the, you know, he's been in, you know, it's not a situation like John college or Atlanta or miles Turner, Indiana, where those guys have been in trade rumors for two to three years. I don't think it's that strong, but I just think he wants to feel comfortable and maybe the trade rumors and, and well, they can, you know, it's a time to break up the J's and all that. I think that's bothered him some.

Gary Washburn, a lot's been said about Joe Missoula. Just what's your evaluation of him so far as a coach? I know it's a tough situation and maybe he wasn't ready for it, but when you get that opportunity, uh, you get evaluated.

I think he's done a very good job. Uh, in many cases, I think there's certain things he's been stubborn about. Um, I think the timeout situation, some of the lineups have been curious, some playing guys, uh, in certain situations, not playing guys and others, uh, not kind of sticking to your convictions in a situation like such and such as like this series where Eric Spolstra has thrown so many defenses and, and wrinkles at him.

And he seemed unprepared for that. And we all understand you're coaching against a guy who's a basketball mastermind headed for the hall of fame, one of the great coaches in the game, and you're going to lose that match, but you got to make it a little bit closer. So I think he's still a young learning, uh, inexperienced coach who has a lot of room to grow, but I also think he's done a good job in keeping the ship afloat and taking them this far. So the Celtics are going to have to decide, you know, if they lose this series, if they're knocked out, what needs to change between this year and next year because the championship window is now, and they have to determine whether Ruzula is the right coach to lead them to a championship. You know, there's plenty of coaches. We've just seen two or three at Guten Holzer, Williams and Doc Rivers who have gotten fired because they were good coaches and their teams were very good, but they wanted their teams to be great. And that I'm not saying it's going to be a situation here, but that's something the Celtics have to contemplate.

With how crazy of a situation that was and how unique it was. I know Brad already went upstairs to take on the front office role. Should he have gone down and coached this team when they realized that a doc was not going to be the coach of the squad this year? Yeah, I don't think you want someone who doesn't want to be there, right?

I don't. I mean, the reason Brad resigned and became president was because he was losing the team that 2021 year when they lost to Brooklyn in five games and they were 36 and 36 coming off the bubble year where they made the Easter Conference Finals and they were close to a final two wins from an NBA Finals appearance. He knew like, I'm not getting through to these guys like I should.

They were a 500 team. They were just, you know, they dealt with injuries and, you know, the Kimball Walker wasn't what he once was and all that, but it was obvious Brad was losing the locker room. And now I'm talking about, you know, they didn't like him, but just the message eight, nine years and it was time to move forward. So I don't think Brad thought, oh, okay, after a year I'm refreshed and suddenly my message is going to be new and fresh and clear. I think he felt like, why put him there if he doesn't want to be there. He wants someone eager. I think Brad likes being a general manager.

You know, he has two children who are in high school. He can be in Boston. You know, he can kind of be behind the scenes. He's been a very behind the scenes general manager. You know, he's, he, you see him now.

He's seeing, now you don't. He doesn't talk to the media much. He kind of keeps, he keeps a very low profile.

I think that's the way he wanted. So Gary Washburn, you hear, you hear so much about this team, not being able to move on, not having email Doka as their head coach, not talking about on the court, just like in the locker room, are they past that? Or is that still something that this group inside the locker room is not over?

I don't think, I mean, I think they've moved on cause they've had to because life never stops. And, you know, you, you can't keep thinking of email your coach, Oh, I wish he was here. He ain't coming back, but I don't think they were comfortable with the circumstances of like why he was suspended. They, you know, I think a lot of people thought there would be a lot more of the story that would come out and the Celtics really haven't relayed those details to the players.

They feel like they're one of the regular people that like everybody else, they just know it wasn't, you know, inappropriate actions and a consensual relationship with the team employee. And then the fact that he's jumped right back into the coaching fray in that there hasn't been a lot of backlash. I don't know what's going on in Houston, but I haven't heard a lot of backlash about his hiring in Houston.

You know, he faced the music at his press conference. He's, you know, get, you know, compiling a staff, you know, it's kind of gotten back to basketball. So I think some of the players might question, well, why did we do this drastic move of suspending him for the year when, you know, we could have maybe suspended him for a month.

And, and, and so I think those questions, but I don't think those questions are just like constantly in the locker room, seven, eight months later. Gary Washburn, before we let you run, it's probably the toughest question I'm going to ask you, because like you said, at the start, nothing surprises you with this team. And this team has been so unpredictable. Do you think they win game five tomorrow night? I think they do because they have some momentum and I think they might've figured out a few things with Miami, but it's going to be a very tough game, you know, and, and you know what, if Miami wins three times at the garden, the series, they deserve to win the series of the better team. So the subs had to defend home court. They haven't been good at home for the last two post-seasons. So I do, I think they they'll win the game.

Cause I think they tactically found some things out that they could do against the heat, but it will be a rugged and tough game. Gary Washburn does a great job covering the selfish of the Boston globe. Always great to catch up with you, Gary. Thank you. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-24 23:01:09 / 2023-05-24 23:08:02 / 7

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