Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum reckons his side got off to a poor start this season because they probably bought into their own hype.
Who could blame them, though? After getting to within one game of the NBA Finals without their biggest stars, it would be pretty natural to think that they'd be a lot stronger this season with a fresh Kyrie Irving and a healthy Gordon Hayward returning to start the campaign.
Things haven't worked out that way, however, and the team is now playing catch up in the Eastern Conference while the Toronto Raptors dominate.
This week, Tatum was asked to share his thoughts on the slow start by MassLive.
“There’s a lot of different reasons," he said (h/t NBC Sports). "Maybe we believed the hype too much and we didn’t come out and perform. There’s a big target on our back. Teams are coming after us and maybe we didn’t understand that fully. Nothing we can do about the past, just focus on each game.”
Irving also added that players should be more receptive to coach Brad Stevens' methodology instead of being "selfish".
“I think just guys being in their specific roles,” the superstar point guard explained. “[Coach] Brad [Stevens] being more definitive in what he wants and us responding the right way and not necessarily doing it selfishly.
"Coach says something, he wants something done, he thinks this is best for the team - instead of responding selfishly and thinking about yourself, you think about what’s best for the team. I think over the last few games we’ve just been having a lot more fun doing so, and playing the right way.
"Playing at a high level, it should be fun. It should be fun getting up and down, getting stops, cheering for your teammates. Basketball should be fun. I think initially when we first started, everyone was in their own heads and emotionally you can be all over the place. You bring that emotion to your teammates and it’s just not a good recipe.”
What This Means
The Celtics are seemingly on the mend after winning their last three games. And it has taken them quite some time to get things moving in the right direction again.
Perhaps the absence of the backs-against-the-wall mentality from last season has something to do with their sluggish start. But Tatum's theory does seem to be the best one.