1.07.2009

What Gives?

Losers of five out of their last seven games after winning 27 of their first 29, the Boston Celtics have given their fans moment for pause. We must assume that Celtics players and management are also struggling with the team's recent play.

If any of us wanted to play shrink, and lord knows we all have, the list of blameworthy culprits is long and getting longer. Personally, I lay primary responsibility on one factor, which I'll get to at the end.

First, the usual culprits:

-This team doesn't bring it every night. Last year's team did.

-The second unit doesn't have a captain. Last year's team had James Posey.

-Doc had the luxury of choosing when to insert Glen Davis last year, and Davis came up big when inserted (Detroit, San Antonio). This year Doc plays Davis every night and often times the results aren't pretty or productive.

-Leon Powe is a now known quantity and isn't surprising anyone any more.

-The Celtics posted a 27-2 record after playing 18 of their first 29 games at home, mostly against bad teams.

You can add some of the other complaints about needing a big off the bench, needing a real point guard off the bench, and the Celtics being tired. But if you recall, Rajon Rondo said the Celtics were tired BEFORE they went on their 19-game winning streak. Also, Scot Pollard, last year's big off the bench, got hurt early in the season and was used sporadically before getting injured. Finally, the point guard off the bench last year is the same as the one this year, and last year we did just fine.

So what do I say is the biggest factor in this team’s decline?

None of the above.

I say it's the loss to the Lakers.

That game was a big game. I don't care what Pierce and Garnett said before hand. Obviously, the last seven games have proven them both wrong. The Celtics most certainly do not circle every game on the calendar.

As I said at the time, the loss to the Lakers was Doc's first defeat in a statement game during the KG Era. Many readers pooh-poohed this idea. But I say the C's were more than a little disappointed. At some level, they realized that if they can't beat the Lakers when they want to, like they did last year, then winning these other games doesn't seem very important.

In other words, the 27-2 start was a statement, a statement from one coast to the other. It had an impact. NBA pundits went from predicting a Lakers championship to predicting a Celtics repeat. Even many of the Lakers conceded that the Celtics looked better and hungrier than they did the year before.

The loss eliminated the Celtics’ aura of invincibility, and with it eliminated the strong wind at their back. Let's face it, wins are uplifting and losses are downers, and losses in big games are even bigger downers.

Had the Celtics defeated the Lakers, the swagger and cohesiveness of a champion would still be present. Instead, the Celtics players now more closely resemble the characters from Night of the Living Dead, walking about aimlessly, but walking nonetheless.

2 comments:

FLCeltsFan said...

I think the whole problem is fatigue. These guys put way more effort into that win streak than they let anyone know. Also they are getting every team's best effort everynight and that wasn't the case last season.

The lack of defense, taking jumpers instead of taking it to the hoop, the lack of aggressiveness, the lack of focus that produces more turnovers. All can be explained by them being tired. It is time to play starters 20 minutes per game for a few games. Let them sink or swim with the bench. It will strengthen the bench and give the starters a bit of a rest. Regroup and then go at it again.

Lex said...

Increased bench play, with the kids from Utah, would be great.

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