By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- There have been a lot of different adjectives thrown around to describe the 2018-19 Boston Celtics.
Disappointing. Frustrating. Depressing. They all apply for a team that was supposed to roll to a 55-60-win season and an Eastern Conference title, but wouldn't even host a playoff series if the postseason started today. The team has lacked chemistry on the floor throughout the season, and most players make it sound like the season can't end soon enough.
And now third-year guard Jaylen Brown has used the magic word that really hammers home the issues inside the Boston locker room: Toxic.
"To be honest, I'm not feeling good at all," Brown told the Boston Globe out in California, where the C's begin a four-game road trip Tuesday night with a tilt against the defending champion Golden State Warriors. "The losing, it's not a good feeling. I'm not too good about that.
"Because right now it's not good. It's toxic. I can't really point out one thing. I don't have all the answers. I'm just going to try to be part of the change. I'm going to try to do my best. That's all I've got to say," he concluded.
Brown has been one of the few players to play well during Boston's current slump, which may lead to him being reinserted into the starting lineup. The Celtics have dropped seven of their last 10 games, but Brown has averaged 13.1 points off 47 percent shooting during that stretch. Most importantly, he's been one of the only guys to actually engaged on the defensive end over the last two weeks.
He said the environment needs to change inside the Boston locker room, but Brown added that it requires more than one guy to improve the situation.
"I just try to come out and play hard and hopefully that sparks some [change]. But it's not just up to one person. It's up to the whole group," said Brown. "Everybody has to be on page. If one person's not on page, it's going to affect the whole group. I just try to come out and play hard and see where that leaves me."
The Celtics are certainly in a unique spot. They're currently a team built to win now, with players such as Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, but with a mix of young talent in Brown and Jayson Tatum. Irving's future has created an unwanted distraction for much of the team, one that has been infuriating Irving for much of the last few months. Mix in Anthony Davis trade rumors, with the likes for Brown and Tatum at the forefront of those rumors, and there is a lot of tension in the Boston locker room. It essentially boils down to if Irving decides to re-up with Boston (as he stated he would before the season), that likely means Danny Ainge is going to try to trade Brown, Tatum and others for Davis. If Irving decides to leave, that young mix will likely be sticking around. All that chatter about the future has created quite the mess in the present.
As most of the team has adopted the "flip the switch" mentality with the final month of the regular season, Brown still believes the squad can turn it around before the playoffs. Their current four-game West Coast trip could offer them a good opportunity to come together as a team, a chance to put the last 64 games behind them and focus on the road ahead.
"This is all about being together," head coach Brad Stevens told the Globe. "We have not repeated with the right connected level for a lot of the year. But we can do it and we have done it and that's going to have to be a choice. Ultimately, that's on all of us. We're all responsible for that. The thing I love most about basketball is when a team comes together. We haven't yet. So we'll see.
"If we do, we'll have a chance to be a good basketball team and see where that can lead us. If we don't, we won't be playing very long," added Stevens.
After taking on the Warriors on Tuesday, the Celtics will visit the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday before taking on the Lakers and Clippers in Los Angeles on Saturday and Monday, respectively.
At this point, the wins and losses don't matter for the Celtics. Right now, they need to focus on playing better and clearing that "toxic" atmosphere out of their locker room.
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