The Boston Celtics were arguably the most disappointing team in 2018-19. The group lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the playoffs after everyone picked them to win the East before the season started. Guys like Marcus Smart and Gordon Hayward have come to the defense of Kyrie Irving, whom everyone on the outside blamed for the Celtics' struggles last season.
However, it was clear that something was wrong with that Celtics team. Smart was a guest on ESPN's Zach Lowe podcast and talked about some of the things which plagued Boston in 2018-19:
“I think it was hard for everybody last year, including myself,” Smart said, via CBS Sports. “You know, I was dealing with my mom's passing, and everybody had their own little individual things that they were dealing with. Then when it came to the team, it was like, ‘Oh, well. I got more things [that I'm] worried, stressed about that I need to be focused on right now individually.'
“You didn't know what anybody was going through. You was afraid to talk. You didn't know how to talk to anybody. Growing up as young men, you're always taught you don't want to show your emotions, you don't want to cry, and it's this stigma on it that, you know, as a man you're supposed to be manly, crying is not manly, talking about your feelings is not manly. When that's not true. That hurts. It hurts you in the long run. And mental health is a big issue in a lot of sports. And that was what was going on. Everybody was afraid to talk to one another.
“I think last year just opened our eyes to the outcome of holding all that pent-up aggression or whatever you're going through inside, that it doesn't work for us. It's only going to bring us down, and everyone hated feeling down.”
Irving's grandfather passed away at the beginning of the season. The superstar point guard said at Brooklyn Nets media day he was withdrawn from his Celtics teammates as a result of his grandfather's death.
The Celtics are 11-4 this season. Boston replaced Irving with Kemba Walker and Al Horford with Enes Kanter. Horford signed with the Philadelphia 76ers in free agency.
The Celtics also lost Marcus Morris, who joined the New York Knicks, and Terry Rozier, who is on the Charlotte Hornets.