Welcome back to the Weekly Celtics Report. This week we see if this really is rock bottom for the Celtics, and we talk about who is to blame for the Celtics struggle this season as they sit at 15-16, holding the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference.
How Much Further Can We Go?
The NBA season is a crazy trip of winding highs and lows for all basketball teams, but rarely have I ever seen a season quite like the Celtics this year. From starting hot and sitting atop the Eastern conference, to crashing fast within the span of a month and falling all the way to No. 9, sitting a game blow .500 this year. Earlier in the week, following a loss to the Washington Wizards, Jaylen Brown was honest about the Celtics following a question about this being rock bottom for the team, explaining, “It could be … If you let it be rock bottom, it’s going to be. Today we weren’t very good.” Since then they have been 2-6, including blowing a 24-point lead to the Pelicans, losing to the Hawks after being down by 23 and letting a game against the Mavericks slip away after Luka Doncic hit back to back step-back 3s to win the game. The rock bottom that we saw against the Wizards was purely a warning of the future, and just a week later we are here asking ourselves if it could get any worse. For me, what this past week has shown me is that this team as it currently stands is not good enough to make it back to the Eastern Conference Finals that they achieved in the bubble last season. I personally need to see general manager Danny Ainge do something to shake up this team’s depth chart and bring in a reliable scorer and ball handler and someone who can help this team move the ball. Kemba Walker has not fulfilled his end of the bargain this season in terms of scoring, and he’s never been known as a playmaker. Without him, all of the pressure is on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to handle the ball and score for the team. The Celtics bench doesn’t do any favors either for scoring the ball, and so all the pressure is on Brown and Tatum to carry the brunt of the offensive end. This results in the ball not moving much, and means the quality of shots goes down. I believe the Celtics should go out and get someone that can help get the ball moving, while also helping out the two stars on the scoring end, and they should do it as soon as possible if they hope to save this season. Otherwise, Ainge and the front office are essentially admitting defeat this season.
Who’s To Blame?
Thanks to the rough month the Celtics have had, fans and media alike have begun the search for someone to blame, ranging from the general manager to the players themselves. While I’m not going to take sides on who I feel is to blame, there is no one place you can point to for their current struggles. Danny Ainge is responsible for bringing in the young talent and free agents that have kept the Celtics in contention the last few years, but he is also responsible for the lackluster bench that he has developed, as well as the signing of Kemba Walker when his previous medical history was spotty. Head coach Brad Stevens is also responsible for questionable play calls at the end of games, as well as making sure his players are motivated and ready to play every night, no matter how good or bad the opponent. The stars in Tatum, Brown and Walker also have to be held accountable for their play. Whether it’s bad defense or simply not listening to the coach, they have to be responsible for their effort on the court. I believe that everyone has to improve for this team to get better, but I am not sure that this is achievable this season. The Celtics are in a great spot, with two young stars with still tons of upside, in a conference that is weak apart from its top three teams. I believe that the front office needs to continue to make decisions that make the team as good as possible as soon as possible, because it is incredibly rare for a team to have this much security with young superstars for very long, and it will fade away soon if the losses keep coming. With that said, the players also need to understand that what they are doing right now isn’t working, and that they should try to trust the people around them rather than trying to be heroes. Ultimately, this team has a long way to go before they are back to the Eastern Conference Finals form that they proved they could be last season.
That will be it for this week’s edition of our Celtics Report. Next week we will talk about the teams games against the Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Clippers as they hope to bounce back to over .500 and back into the playoff picture.