Down the stretch of the Boston Celtics’ Game 2 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, Rajon Rond told Avery Bradley that the boys in green were accepting defeat.
And Bradley, afterward, couldn’t disagree with him, per ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg:
“I looked around and a few times in the game guys were putting their heads down, I think getting down on themselves,” Bradley said. “But as a team, we have to stay together. The other team is looking at that. They’re using that as motivation for themselves.
“I could even hear Rondo, like, ‘Yeah, they gave up. They gave up.’ But you never can let a team see that. You have to continue to be positive and go out there and play hard, no matter what the outcome is.”
Such demeanor is extremely alarming. The Celtics should be playing inspired basketball, with some fight. This is the playoffs. Isaiah Thomas is grieving the death of his younger sister on the basketball court. They should want to win, badly, for him. Falling into a 2-0 hole against an eight-seed, even one like the Bulls, is demoralizing.
Which isn’t to say the Celtics’ case is hopeless. They are still a very talented basketball team that’s enduring some sort of rut. Chances are they will hit more of their threes in Game 3. Thomas should shoot better from the floor. They shouldn’t lose the transition battle. Things can, and will probably be, different.
But will it be enough to climb out of a 2-0 series hole that is often painted as a grave? We don’t know, because the Celtics don’t know. They’ve forfeited the right to know anything at this point.