On a night that Hollywood celebrated the best work within the movie industry, the Celtics nearly provided its fans with a sequel to losing to the New Jersey Nets at home. Instead, they pulled off an exciting drama that would make Steven Spielberg proud. For most of the game, this team looked listless, uninspired, bored, sluggish and downright puzzling in the eyes of the fans. What else is new, right? Amazingly they were able to pull off a huge comeback win with Ray Allen bailing them out (they should have traded him for Kirk Hinrich!). So they’ve won four consecutive with just one of those wins being convincing (Charlotte). What’s wrong with the Celtics? That’s been the burning question ever since the green gave Celtics fans a fantastic gift on Christmas Day by beating the Magic in Orlando. But maybe we should have been looking to Phoenix for the answers all along.
Last Friday, Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic got some insightful quotes from Steve Nash about his own recent struggles. Here are some of the highlights:
- "Mentally, physically fatigued, to play physically at a deficit for so long," Nash said after Thursday's loss. "I just can't do the things I want to do and it's painful out there but I've got to find a way to suck it up, especially with Goran out. It's not a lot of fun to play like this but nobody feels sorry for you in the Western Conference."
- "It's not as much fun to play the game that way," Nash said of his condition. "I just have no thrust. Every movement, my back is trying to stop me from going somewhere but I got to just keep working and fighting to see if I can improve. Our training staff does a great job to get me out there at all."
- "Having this break hopefully can get him closer to 100 percent," Suns head athletic trainer Aaron Nelson said. "Once you're in season, it's all about maintenance. He hasn't got the opportunity to rest at all."
Seems to me like he unintentionally shed some light as to what the Celtics issues are for putting in a full night’s work. Nash is still an elite NBA point guard but he’s also an outlier. Most point guards are not nearly as effective as Nash has been this late in his career. But look at the Suns this season and you can see some similarities with the Celtics.
With a fresh, healthy Nash, Phoenix came out of the gates and running their way to records of: 8-1, 14-3 and 15-5. Then they started to tail off a bit playing more to what their expectations were. The Celtics were 23-5 after that Christmas Day game and it’s been well documented about how mediocre they’ve been since.
Maybe it’s just as simple as reading Nash’s quotes. After all, he is 36. Other than Rondo, the Celtics major players are all within the same age range as Nash, with KG being the most important piece. In a lot of these games, they play like world beaters for a half then forget to take their Metamucil at halftime.
Maybe they’re just like Nash: playing at a deficit. It would seem logical enough. When you’re hurt or rehabbing on-the-fly, it’s tough to sustain that level especially with the mileage that KG, Pierce, Allen and Sheed have all logged. That, coupled with the “boredom” attitude are the main reasons as to why these games have become increasingly frustrating. During that glorious 2008 season it was clear that every second of every game meant everything to this team and rightfully so after each member of the New Big Three were all being wasted away on teams with questionable supporting casts at best. Now, maintaining health and having relatively fresh legs come mid-April have become the short-term goal that is the regular season.
At the end of the day the general vibe this team has given off is: “Pffft, just wait until the playoffs man cause then it’s ON.” That’s all fine and well, just as long as they don’t get offended when the same feeling is reciprocated back towards them, from the fans.