Notable Wins: home vs. TOR; @ ATL
Notable L’s: home loss vs. UTA (0-2 vs. Jazz); home loss vs NYK;
Patience is a virtue. Unfortunately it’s not one that the sports world easily accepts. My first post this year dealt with the sky-high expectations for this 2018-’19 season. I as well as other Celtics fans around the nation, expect an NBA championship this year. That makes the recent struggles that much harder to comprehend. 20 games in, and the C’s sit at the .500 mark, 10-10. We’ve won some big games against quality opponents but we’ve also lost some truly excruciating and embarrassing games (the home loss to the Knicks sticking out at the moment). I am certainly not pressing the panic button yet but I will admit, my hands are itching for it. The overall play of the Celtics has been lackadaisical with no heart whatsoever; that goes for the entire roster. In my last post, I offered up excuses why such as injuries and building chemistry together but there is no excuse for a lack of effort. The offense will eventually level out and the shots will go down. But defensively, the Celtics have to be better. It seems like every other night someone is going off for their career-high. Be it Jamal Murray and his quest for 50, Kemba’s demolition in the 4th quarter or even Joe Ingles’ 5 three night; everyone is getting a career game out of the Celtics.
Depth has been a major issue; not a lack of, but rather too much. Right after my last post (at the 10-game marker), news broke that Terry Rozier requested a trade and was unhappy with his role. Rozier has since claimed that it wasn’t true but I think the circumstance sheds a good light on the depth issue. There aren’t enough minutes. Guys like Rozier, Smart, Morris and even Baynes are not only capable but have started multiple NBA games. Rozier and Smart are young guards with valued skill sets so it’s reasonable for them to expect a certain amount of court time despite backing up Kyrie Irving. Morris and Hayward also take a backseat to Tatum and Brown on the perimeter with Hayward even moving to the bench in recent games. Having too much talent is a good problem to have but not if it’s so much that it chokes the natural talents of your players. It’s a trickle down effect throughout the roster that infects everyone. It’s no wonder there have been rumors of malcontent. At the moment, I’m willing to trust that the ship can be righted and I fully expect it to be. I believe these Celtics are a tight-knit group and chemistry will start to form again. The expectations still stand for me.
Being a Celtic and putting on that green jersey comes with a code of conduct. As Celtics fans, we expect that you are gonna dive on loose balls, take charges and make the extra pass. Through the first 20 games, that kind of Celtic basketball has been nonexistent. Too often I’ve seen this team settle for contested jumpers and isolation situations. Too often they’ve been down and needed a a stop and couldn’t get one. Too often the effort just hasn’t been there this season…
“It’s just a lack of effort. It’s a lack of fear. We don’t impose our fear and will on teams. Last year, when they came in, when they played the Celtics, they knew they were in for a fight. This year, teams can’t wait to play us. That’s a problem. Like I said before, when guys aren’t scared of you anymore, there is nothing you can do about that. We have to change that. We have got to come out and be the first ones to hit guys in the mouth. We have to get that swagger back.” – Marcus Smart
It’s no surprise that the player who most embodies the traits I described above would say something like that. It’s a challenge to his teammates and a wake up call as well. The Celtics can’t keep getting hit in the mouth without retaliating. They get down, and instead of attacking and playing aggressive; the opposite happens. Guys settle for jumpers and the tension mounts to the point where every possession becomes crucial.
Despite all the negativity swirling around the team, I’m confident they can right the ship. There are too many leaders and too much talent for them to fall flat on their face. It’s still early in the season BUT they have to keep an eye to the standings with Toronto being as hot as they are. I still expect the Celtics to not only make it to the NBA Finals, but to win as well. I think this team is talented beyond belief with a coach to match. A little more time to gel and figure some things out will do this team some good. Already, I see improvements offensively and once the effort and defense picks back up, the Celtics will be dangerous again. As for now, like Smart stated, nobody fears them, it’s time to change that. It’s time to start playing well and playing like the team we as fans, know they can be.
- W. 116-109 @ PHX: Player of the Game: Kyrie
- L. 123-115 @ UTA: Player of the Game: Joe Ingles
- L. 94-100 @ POR: Player of the Game: Jusuf Nurkic
- W. 111-82 vs. CHI: Player of the Game: Kyrie
- W. 123-116 vs. TOR: Player of the Game: Kyrie
- L. 86-98 vs. UTA: Player of the Game: Donovan Mitchell
- L. 112-117 @ CHA: Player of the Game: Kemba Walker
- L. 109-117 vs. NYK: Player of the Game: Trey Burke
- W. 114-96 @ ATL: Player of the Game: Baynes
- L. 104-113 @ DAL: Player of the Game: J.J. Barea
Record in last 10 games: 4-6
Total Record: 10-10
MVP through 20 games: Kyrie Irving
Kyrie finally started heating up the last few games. Starting with the Phoenix game on 11/8, Kyrie has scored 20+ points 7 times in his last 10. Including a season high 43 points in a huge win over Toronto. His percentages are reverting back to the mean after his slow start and he now averages 21 ppg with 6 assists which is right at his career average. Kyrie’s influence extends far beyond the basketball court however as it is now on him to deliver on the expectations put on the Celtics as a team. The C’s needed Kyrie to start performing at his MVP capable level and now that he has, the rest of the team needs to follow suit and step up their play.