It’s time to accept the Celtics for what they are. Mediocre. We’ve reached the point where we as fans are tired of feeling good about a bounce-back win only to be disappointed again the next night. That shit is exhausting. All we can do now is try to assess where things went wrong and what needs to change.
The Celtics started the season 8-3. It’s hard to ignore the fact that Kemba Walker didn’t play in those first 11 games and that they’re now 7-13 since his return. I don’t like criticizing Kemba because he’s actually a likeable guy. Unlike Kyrie, his play on the court is the only thing we can hold against him. But when it gets so bad that he’s actually hurting the team, criticism is warranted. He shot 1-for-12 in a loss to the Lakers on 1/30. Three games later he was 4-for-20 in Phoenix, followed by 2-for-12 in Utah. In Sunday’s overtime loss to the Pelicans that featured a blown 24-point lead, Kemba was 5-for-21 and a whopping 1-for-12 from three. He’s now shooting 37% through 16 games and averaging just 4.1 assists.
Of course Walker is hardly the only one at fault. Brad deserves a significant share of the blame for his questionable rotations and inability to get through to certain players. Danny has already admitted that he hasn’t done a satisfactory job of building the roster. And as good as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have become, they still have a ways to go in terms of leadership and making their teammates better. They’re All-Stars who are a couple years away from reaching the mark of “superstar”. Having the maturity to know when to take over and when to defer is the only thing separating them from that title. As the two players who have the ball in their hands the most during crunch time, they should be leading the team in assists. Tatum (4.6 per game) and Brown (3.9) both trail Marcus Smart (6.1) by a fairly wide margin in that category.
The C’s continue to be the model of inconsistency. They’ve now lost seven out of 10 after falling to the Mavericks in Dallas on Tuesday night, and they’ve gone a whole month without winning two games in a row (1/24 vs. CLE, 1/25 @ CHI). Still, they manage to pull off an “impressive win” once or twice a week to keep you interested. Unfortunately that trick is starting to lose its shine.
Danny took fully accountability last week, saying “our roster obviously is not good” and inviting fans to place 100% of the blame on him. This could indicate that a major shake-up is coming at the trade deadline. Talent aside, the best thing we can hope for is a strong veteran presence who will shift the culture and ignite some much-needed passion up and down the roster. Because based on talent, this team should already be far better than .500. Something is lacking internally.