Post from January 7, 2009…
The Boston Celtics could do no wrong to start the season. They opened up with the best 29 game start in NBA league history, going 27-2. The biggest regular season game on the NBA regular season schedule pitted the top two teams in the league in the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. The Celtics lost that game and we didn’t think much of it, just a tough loss against perhaps our best competition in the league. Then, the next six games happened.
The following night, the Celtics looked to rebound against the lowly Warriors. They started out strong, but ended up losing by 10 points (outscored 35-17 in the 4th quarter alone). They gave up 28 points to team captain Stephen Jackson and this seemed to be a trend in the five recent losses of the C’s: big scoring outputs by players who shouldn’t dominate the best defense in the league.
Two games later, the Celtics traveled to Portland (after rebounding against a disastrous Kings squad) and allowed Steve Blake to score 21 points. What made this loss sting even more is the fact that Brandon Roy was inactive and the Blazers started three “rookies” in Greg Oden, Nicolas Batum and Rudy Fernandez. Inexperienced teams aren’t supposed to get the best of the reigning champs.
After thumping the Wizards at home, the Green went on to suffer back to back losses and perhaps two of the worst losses of the season. The first one was a trip to Madison Square Garden against the Fun ‘N Gun Knickerbockers. The Celtics lost 100-88 and allowed Wilson Chandler and Al Harrington to combine for 61 points (31 and 30, respectively). Take a second to think about that: Wilscon Chandler scored THIRTY-ONE points against Coach Thibodeau’s defense.
To follow the loss to the Knicks was a trip to Charlotte last night. I truly expected a rebound byt he defending champs, but I had to keep in mind that the Bobcats always play us tight. Paul Pierce was the only one to step up and play a good game, eventually hitting a shot with just a little more than three seconds left to send the game to overtime. In overtime, the Bobcats played great defense and created fast break opportunities for easy transition buckets. The Celtics lost 114-106, allowing Gerald Wallace (23), Raymond Felton (25) and DJ Augustin (20) to all go over the 20-point mark. And we have now lost five of the last seven games.
What gives with the Celtics? Is it a Christmas Day hangover that carried into the new year? Are the Celtics losing their mojo? Are we still the team to beeat?
I’ll be the first to say that this is a horrible stretch of games for the Celtics, but it is definitely not time to hit the panic button at all. Looking at the past two weeks, there are some glaring problems. First, the team defense has looked horrible compared to how they played thier first 29 games. The passion on that side of the floor just isn’t there. On offense, the ball is out of Rondo’s hands too much and it’s too much of the Big Three going one-on-one while the other four stand around. On top of that, the bench has been pathetic and has really given nothing to the team as of late.
One final deciding factor in these games is that every team that the Celtics play is giving them their best game. The Celtics can’t walk into someone else’s arena and expect to just show up and get a win any more because the league is starting to see that we are beatable and are no longer scared of us. We have to come out and show that we are still the best team in the league and it starts on the defensive side of the floor.