What is going on with the alleged championship-caliber Boston Celtics? Last week we witnessed, a supposed eye opener when they got blown out by the significantly new and improved Cleveland Cavaliers? Boston allowed 250 points in the last two games including a home blowout to the Clippers and lost three in a row overall including falling behind Indiana by 26. Cleveland exposed flaws that have been visible for two months. The Celtics have been barely above .500 since December 6th with a record of 18-15. Not only is that the 15th best record in the NBA during that span, but they are mired in mediocrity which is a true representation of who they are. Heck, even Cleveland who has been a punching bag for the last two months and has been mocked for all their losses and underachieving has essentially the same record as the Celtics during this stretch.
Eastern Conference Standings – since December 6
To make matters worse, Kyrie Irving has lost confidence in his teammates and as the season has worn on and has been more and more undisciplined with his shot selection. Jaylen Brown is a fun athlete to watch, but can’t shoot consistently which is what scouts were worried about when he was drafted and will never be the player the Celtics envision without improving his shooting. The Celtics offense is built around the 3 and they simply don’t have any consistent shooters aside from Irving. Terry Rozier is improving and Jayson Tatum is routinely asked to do too much to compensate for the Celtics offensive shortcomings and he shows flashes, has amazing potential, but is not there yet and understandably so. The Celtics aren’t as good as last year, but are clearly better positioned for the future.
A passing draft
With the storied history of the Celtics franchise, it occurred to me recently what a poor job the franchise has done over the year drafting guards, specifically point guards in their 71-year history. When you think of the top Celtics of all-time, how many of them are guards? JoJo White stands alone as the only legitimate (point) guard drafted and who played for Boston throughout his career that was also all-star caliber. Bob Cousy wasn’t even drafted originally by Boston and they only stumbled upon him thanks to his unwillingness to sign with his draft team and the Celtics through dumb luck, drew his name in a dispersal draft. Rajon Rondo and Dennis Johnson were acquired via trade. Chauncey Billups would probably be second best after White, but Rick Pitino foolishly gave up on him. Sam Jones and Paul Westphal were shooting guards. Satch Sanders was 8-0 in championships but was more known for his defense and intangibles just like KC Jones. Danny Ainge has recently made this more of a priority by drafting Marcus Smart and Rozier, but Smart is limited offensively and Rozier’s upside remains to be seen.
I said the day it happened that Danny Ainge erred significantly by not taking Julius Randle over Marcus Smart. Think of the Celtics needs right now and how valuable a player Randle would be.
What Cleveland did at the trade deadline was Auerbachian and appropriately it was pulled off by a GM with the last name Altman. To acquire four versatile players of that caliber for players that were not contributing and in some cases detracting from success was incredible. George Hill, Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson would play integral roles on the Celtics and would arguably become three of their five best shooters. Larry Nance Jr is a bonus for his athleticism and intangibles and LeBron must have been privately drooling at what Koby Altman pulled off.
Kevin Love wanted to assure us he will fit in when he returns from injury. I love (no pun intended… or maybe pun intended) when an all-star feels the need to alert us that he will fit in.
I like Kobe Bryant more and more every day. When asked if he would help recruit players to the Lakers, he said “If I have to recruit and convince them to play for this franchise, than they aren’t the right ones.” Make no mistake, the Lakers are on the threshold of something magical and have an arsenal of young talent.
Isaiah Thomas and Rajon Rondo getting in a fight the other night was comical. Talk about two of the most insecure guys in the league. Did Rondo think he was proving his allegiance to Paul Pierce by giving Thomas a hard time about wanting his video the night of Pierce’s retirement? Rondo has so much baggage with coaches and control that it continues to derail what should have been a more promising career and gets attention for all the wrong reasons. Thomas claims he was stunned by the trade to Cleveland. Really?? Isaiah, you dissed the coaching staff, frequently criticized the team’s effort, didn’t know how to fit in when the offense didn’t revolve around you like it did with Boston and the team was playing horribly, but you were shocked?
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em
Speaking of insecurity, the narcissist is rumored to want to join the Warriors. LeBron wants to join Kevin Durant, who didn’t have the confidence to lead a team on his own and had to piggy back the success of three all-stars. Maybe he could continue his role as a player-coach and replace Steve Kerr and then find a way to ruin the Warriors success.
Shooting from the Lip
If someone were to tell you prior to the start of the 2017-18 NHL season, that the Las Vegas Golden Knights, Winnipeg Jets and Boston Bruins would be three of the top five teams in the league at the 3/4 point, you might have sent them for drug-testing.
Lane Johnson of the Eagles criticized the Patriots for not letting their players have fun? I thought winning was fun. I thought getting to the AFC Championship game or Super Bowl virtually every year was what professional athletes play for. I thought it was a privilege and fun to learn from the best NFL coach of all-time and to go to battle with the best quarterback of all-time. When Johnson makes that kind of claim, it seems to me he is more about being individual than team. By the way, Rob Gronkowski manages to have a ton of fun, but he is often referenced as one of the hardest working players on the team.
Have to go back to watching the Olympics as I’m gearing up for Skijoring and the Biathlon. Wake me when it’s over.