In almost every instance of the Celtics melting down this season (or, if you prefer, you could view the last two months as one collective meltdown), they have had ready-made excuses, primarily injuries. And so it was again last night with Paul Pierce not playing. But it’s clear now that whatever is causing this sustained mediocrity (to be charitable) rises far above injury issues.
It can’t be simply a lack of enough physical talent, 1 through 12, can it? It’s actually very hard to file an indictment against this group and be certain that it’s fair and accurate. Is it a lack of a killer instinct? Is it a lack of maturity? Is it a lack of chemistry born of losing some glue guys the last couple years and adding guys who didn’t bring their own Elmer’s? Is it simply that the majority of their best players are old and just can’t be expected to play 48 good minutes every night? It could be any or all of those. I tend to dismiss the last one since, as Gary Washburn noted in the Globe today, they haven’t been getting anywhere near 48 good minutes in most of their match-ups with good teams. Even fogeys can hold it together for three quarters. I think the fairest way to pin down this team’s problem(s) is to say very generally that there’s no “it” factor.
(One thing we can safely surmise: Rasheed Wallace is not "it," does not
have "it" and is unlikely to bring anything resembling "it" to the
table for the remainder of the season and into the playoffs. That is,
unless "it" turns out to be threatening the welfare of rims around the
league with ill-timed and ugly attempts from three-point land and a
general malaise from every other spot on the court.)
The more, let’s say, “optimistic” contributors (read: unrepentent suck-ups) to Redsarmy.com – not to mention John’s name – would have the world believe that the Celtics have been on cruise control. “Coasting” is the word I have heard from that camp. Well then, let it never be said that the 2009-10 Celtics need work on their coasting. They have beaten exactly two elite teams since opening night, and one of them was the Lakers, sans Kobe Bryant, by one point. Stand down, John. (Rob pats John re-assuringly on the head.) I’m not taking anything away from them; I’m merely pointing it out. Yes, yes, John, I understand the Celtics have been ravaged by injuries. Yes, yes, surrrre, they’re right in the title mix…)
They have also lost the majority of their games against second tier teams, and they have basically sworn off winning at home. I’m going to save John some work here by informing the Redsarmy readers how he likely interprets the latter fact: “They know they have no chance at claiming home court in the playoffs against any of the title contenders, so what’s the point of winning at home? They’ll have to win on the road in the playoffs. It’s a pre-meditated and brilliant strategy!” If the Celtics continue to circle the drain, I may have to make the “Celtics Facts-to-John Glossary” a regular feature on Redsarmy.com.
For now, let’s hope the team finds “it” fast… whatever “it” is.