It’s easy to dismiss poor play in January.
Championships are not won in January.
There is plenty of time to get things back on track.
The Celtics will likely add a player or two between now and March 1, which will trigger another period of transition.
Ray Allen is injured and/or in a shooting slump.
KG is injured.
Other than KG, the players have seemed bored and out of synch.
After a 29-3 start, they were due for a fall of some sort.
I buy into this explanation (rationalization?) to some extent. But the KG injury complicates things.
At it’s core, the argument for dismissing January losses is that the games don’t mean anything, and January games against poor teams mean even less. The Celtics should still be able to rise to the occasion against good teams, or so the theory goes.
Well, we just played a good team yesterday, fell behind by 16, and eventually lost the game, making the Celtics 5-5 in their last 10 games. The absence of KG makes yesterday’s loss to the Magic an imperfect barometer of where we are at.
But you can see we have regressed, nonetheless.
We went from playing with DEFCON 1 intensity for 48 minutes, to playing with such intensity only when needed, and sometimes not even then.
We went from taking every game seriously, to only taking some games seriously, and approaching the others with a “stay close and then grind out the win down the stretch” mentality.
Thus, while I do agree that the NBA season ultimately comes down to how you perform in a seven-game series during May and June, you need to show signs of championship caliber play during the season. You also need to show signs of growth.
We’ve seen the Celtics play at a championship caliber level.
But instead of seeing growth lately, we’ve seen regression.
Over the coming weeks, the Celtics will face teams from Texas, Arizona, and Louisiana, and the test they face will be clear.
Can they return to playing ball with a sense of urgency?
Can their offense get back into a rhythm?
Can they make the necessary acquisitions and then integrate those players into the system without encountering further bumps in the road?
This is where Doc will need to step up. But if KG’s injury is prolonged, the lack of an on-field quarterback will make his job that much harder.