The Celtics are now 9-9 and we can no longer consider this a rough patch. 9-9 is good enough for the current 8th seed in the Eastern Conference but would be 11th in the west behind the Kings. The KINGS! Funny part about that is the Celtics owning the Kings pick hoping it would convey a high lottery pick. In reality, they need to worry about if they’re worse than Sacramento. Clearly the Celtics are a good team that’s just absolutely playing like shit currently. There are clear problems that need to be figured out and I’m going to dive into what they are.
Need an Identity
The Boston Celtics consist of a starting lineup that seems like a fantasy basketball lineup. Each guy from Kyrie Irving down to Jaylen Brown is just so damn good. The only issue with having everyone be so good, is that each guy wants to shine in his own regard. The Celtics are not working as a great team right now as nobody has stepped up as the clear-cut leader. Kyrie needs to step up as the leader and make everyone else well aware of that. He shows glimpses of taking leadership, but then at the same time will pass off to Tatum or Morris in clutch situations. Irving is the guy who hit one of the clutchest shots in NBA Finals history and needs to be the guy taking control at the end of every single game if it’s close. When he doesn’t, results will be similar to how the Knicks game ended. The C’s won’t have a top man on offense and pass the ball around until somebody needs shoot the ball with barely any time on the shot clock. Bad offense will result in bad defense. Kyrie, man, step it the hell up and take control of this team.
Teams Play Harder Against Boston
For the past 3 seasons, the Celtics took pride in always being the underdog team that would defeat the good teams in the league. However, now the Celtics have been recognized as favorites in the east meaning other teams will be looking to make a statement each time they play Boston. Even more than teams, individual players look to stand out against the C’s. This can be proven by looking at 3 recent losses the Celtics had. Against the Nuggets, Jamal Murray dropped a career high 48 points on Boston’s head. The Celtics lost that game not being able to respond to him. A week after that, Kemba Walker drops a career high 60 points when playing the Celtics. 60 points! The Celtics lost because Kemba wanted it just a bit more than they did. Then, the game after that Trey Burke who averages 11 points in his career drops 29 points in Boston along with 11 assists. These guys simply give a shit when the Celtics are expecting that they are good enough to beat these teams. The Knicks were 4-14 and came into Boston firing away. That loss was a complete joke and the Celtics should feel pathetic for allowing it to occur.
Everybody on Twitter is currently freaking out and either demanding the Celtics trade Jaylen Brown/Gordon Hayward or even that Boston should fire Brad Stevens. All of those suggestions are asinine. All a trade would do is mess with chemistry even more and have everyone else on edge. Also, anybody suggesting to fire Brad Stevens needs to immediately stop claiming to know basketball. He’s one of the best coaches in this league and will do everything he can on his end. If the players are unable to execute Stevens’ plans, he can’t be blamed for it. One thing he needs to do is continue with the lineup changes. Hayward has already been brought to the bench and lineup changes should continue as long as struggles do. Tatum and Brown should also be taken out of the starting lineup from game to game just to see if anything benefits from it. Kyrie and Al are the only guys proven themselves enough to not need to get benched. But like anything with this many elements and pieces to it, it’s going to take some time. This Celtics team is gonna be great, and we all just need to wait for that moment.
-Brandon Black (Follow @bhblack02)
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