After falling just short of reaching the NBA Finals last season, the Boston Celtics had everyone buzzing heading into the new campaign as the rightful owners to LeBron's throne in the Eastern Conference.
23 games in, the Celtics sit at just 13-10 and second-year forward Jayson Tatum believes the team's sluggish start to the season may be a result of the squad buying into that pre-season buzz.
"I think it was a lot of different reasons," Tatum said, according to MassLive.com's Tom Westerholm .
"Maybe we believed the hype too much and we didn't come out and perform. There was a big target on our backs. The teams were coming after us and we didn't understand that. Nothing we can do about the past, just focus on the next game."
While their defence has remained elite, sitting 2nd in the NBA for offensive rating , the Celtics have been a mixed bag on the other side of the floor, struggling to find consistency in their offence as they re-integrate Gordon Hayward into the rotation.
Jaylen Brown has also missed the past three games with a back injury and is set return to take on the New York Knicks tonight, most likely off the bench, a role he says he is more than happy with.
"People make it a bigger deal than it really it is," Brown said after practice on Wednesday. "At the end of the day, it's basketball. [Gordon] Hayward came off the bench the other day and had 30 points. That's a mindset thing, that's a choice. Coming out and having the right mindset, coming out and playing the right basketball, it will take care of itself."
Encouragingly, the Celtics have strung together three-straight wins, carrying the league's best offensive rating (124.6) through the stretch, thanks largely to the play of Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart, who have injected new life into the starting lineup.
Mook has held it down vs. New York so far this season 💪💪- Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 6, 2018
Check out his performance in tonight's @generalelectric Gameday Analytics. pic.twitter.com/tmbhE39PAF
While their recent form suggests they could be turning a corner, Tatum says there's no secret formula to the turnaround.
"We've just been playing better," Tatum added. "Starting the game, everybody individually has been doing better. Hopefully, we get [Brown[ back soon. We've been winning, so just build off that."