January Doldrums Snag C's


January Doldrums Snag C's

Some of the worst, most uninspired basketball in the NBA is played in January.

As the Celtics openly admit, they have been just as prone to trouble over the last 26 days as any other contender.

Their phenomenal start has predictably been slowed by some widening cracks in the foundation.

They are not a stable team when Rajon Rondo is off the floor, which is why the glaring need for a veteran, backup point guard could soon be filled - especially if Damon Stoudamire is bought out by Memphis this week.

And Ray Allen, a great shooter, hasn't been so great lately.

Heading into this afternoon's game in Orlando, Allen is shooting 41.8 percent from the floor - a significant drop from his career mark of 44.6. The Celtics guard attributes part of the problem to adjusting to a new system where he has to learn to fit in with two other big stars.

But these are simply the problems of one player.

The Celtics have recently suffered an overall lapse in their efficiency, with Friday's one-point win over Minnesota, one of the worst teams in the league, providing a good illustration of just how listless the C's can play.

Allen (4-for-18) and Paul Pierce (4-for-15) not only shot a combined 8-of-33 from the floor, but also combined for 11 of the Celtics' 23 turnovers.

That number was a season high, but by no means a fluke. Nine of those turnovers came in the fourth quarter - a time when they had consistently played with poise through the first two months of the season.

Allen commented on both his own struggles and those of the team.

``I would consider it, but every game is different,'' he said on whether the new system has him out of sync. ``I think we are still getting used to having teams playing well against us.

``We can't come out flat, and we came out flat in many games. We just have to find the formulas to get better and we have been worrying about that all year.''

But never, perhaps, more than now.

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