Despite their abundance of talent, the Boston Celtics have been a model of inconsistency this season.
You never know what you're gonna get with the team and even when they have a big lead late into the game, they always seem to give it up and fold when the going gets tough.
On Thursday, that happened again with the Celtics, who ended up losing after suffering a major fourth-quarter collapse against the Knicks.
After the game, coach Ime Udoka spoke about the state of his team, calling for leadership and mental toughness to bring the squad through the challenging moments.
"It's a lack of mental toughness to fight through those adverse times," he told reporters. "But it's across the board, a missed shot, a defensive mistake here."
He was also asked how to fix the mental-toughness concerns and said: "It's guys getting rattled when it's not the end of the world. You still got a 12-point lead and you gotta end that run. You got to know time and score."
Truth be told, the Celtics have yet to establish their identity. Besides Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown being the stars, their ability to lead their teammates and open up the floor leaves much to be desired.
Still, some have faith that they can turn things around.
“No question," Brown said. "I think it’s an obvious answer for me. I know people are probably tired of hearing it, people have lost belief and faith, but mine is unwavering. I think we still can be a good team. I think we’ve shown it in spurts. I’ve been out for an extended point of time. I’m trying to get back. We’ve got guys out with COVID. I know that’s not an excuse or anything, other teams do as well. But if the question is, you asked, do I still believe? 100 percent, regardless of if anybody else does or not.”
At 18-21 on the season, and losers of two straight, the Celtics aren't exactly headed in the right direction and it remains to be seen if that will change with the months that are left.
The key will be a massive culture shift, starting from Brown and Tatum. If they can establish something positive in the locker room, it could bring some cohesion to the court.
But even that might not quite be enough.