This season has started off slower than most Celtics’ fans thought it would. With the team currently sitting at 7-6, and coming off a road trip where they went 1-4, something doesn’t seem right.
This article isn’t just going to tell you what’s wrong with the team, but it’s going to tell you how this will all fix itself in time. Sit back Celtics fans, relax, and let’s take this step by step.
First things first, the number one reason why this team is struggling as much as it is right now is that they were too cocky going into the season. I hate to admit it, but they were, and Celtics fans are included in that. This team was going to have to go through early struggles. Listen, the team had an incredible playoff run without Kyrie and Gordon. During the playoffs, everybody’s roles were different. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, and Terry Rozier were the clear-cut leaders of the team because they had to be. Now with Kyrie and Gordon back, they’re not.
The adjustment of inserting your two star players back into the lineup has been a difficult one for Boston thus far. Gordon Hayward has been on a minutes restriction for almost every game of the season. Last night was the first game where he logged 30+ minutes, which is a very promising sign going forward. Hayward has had his struggles and hasn’t played like the Gordon Hayward we expected yet, but people still need to remember the injury he’s coming back from. He may be 100% healthy, but mentally there are still roadblocks he needs to overcome. Now that he seems to be off the minutes’ restriction, he can play more with the starters and build that chemistry up more. He will find his rhythm and improve drastically. I believe. You don’t want to bench him because at the end of the year, he will be a starter and it’s better for the starters to go through their struggles now rather than later.
The Celtics haven’t had the easiest of schedules to start their season. In fact, it’s been one of the toughest ones any team has had to face. They’ve gotten exposed to teams that have better chemistry, and their weaknesses have shown in many of these games so far. Luckily for the Celtics, they aren’t playing too many big-name teams over their next 16 games. This is their opportunity to fix their issues and build up that chemistry that they desperately need. A big win streak combined with a blowout win or two is what this team needs to boost their confidence.
Boston has played one of the toughest schedules in the league so far. Only two of their next 16 games are against highly-regarded teams (TOR, UTA). Wouldn’t be surprised if C’s start to roll a bit heading into the weekend before Xmas.
— Marc D'Amico (@Marc_DAmico) November 12, 2018
After last night’s loss to the Trail Blazers, Kyrie mentioned that the C’s just aren’t as good as they think they are. He’s absolutely right. They came into this season acting as if they could beat the Golden State Warriors. Fast forward to now, this team does not look like they could even contend against that team. What it comes down to is that the Celtics needed to suck this early on. I say that because the team needed to see for themselves that they have so much to work on. I’d rather this happen now rather than later on in the season where time is limited to fix these things. They needed this road trip as something to look back and improve on. The NBA is all about challenges and how you overcome them. The Celtics have a lot to work on, but this road trip was a wake-up call for the team to wake their ass up and make any adjustments necessary moving forward.
Kyrie Irving: “We needed this [bad road trip]. We’re not as good as we think we are. That’s really what it comes down to. … For us to be special, we just have to get through some challenges."
— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) November 12, 2018
Al Horford says that after the game in the locker room, Marcus Smart addressed the team and said, “There’s no more excuses.”
— Marc D'Amico (@Marc_DAmico) November 12, 2018
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) November 12, 2018
So what do the Celtics do now? I think it’s time for Brad Stevens to start playing around with the starting lineup. My best bet is the team sends Jaylen Brown to the bench for Marcus Smart or Aron Baynes. The starting five has too many talented offensive players if that makes any sense. Bringing a more defensive-minded player into the starting lineup and bringing more scoring power off the bench is what could help this team on both sides of the ball. I wouldn’t start Marcus Morris, although he’s been one of the team’s best players, because he fits the bench role so well and is thriving there. He’s playing his best basketball off the bench, therefore, you shouldn’t touch that. I love Jaylen Brown, but I think putting him on the bench with Rozier and Morris could do wonders for him. He only had seven shots last night. I think he can thrive off the bench and get more of a rhythm going without other offensive stars around him.
If it makes you feel any better, the Celtics lead the NBA in defensive rating (102.7). The team’s offensive rating, on the other hand, is ranked 27th in the NBA (104.2). The defense hasn’t looked promising the last few games, but the offense is what I’m more concerned about at this point. You can’t go down 20+ points every game and expect to come back and win the game. They did it against Phoenix, but that’s because they were playing Phoenix. You won’t be able to do that against great teams like Utah or Portland. If the C’s don’t go down that big early on and have to scrap their way back into the ballgame, they win those games. They have to focus on consistency, hitting their open shots, and taking far-less difficult shots than they are settling for.
This team will figure itself out. The team knows that they’re not as good as they think, which is the first step in getting better. Once the schedule evens itself out, the Celtics’ record will improve and the chemistry will show. There is no need to panic. Although these past few games have been frustrating, there’s no need to freak out. Come February/March, this team is going to be unstoppable. It’s all about having patience. It’s an 82 game season, and we’ve only played 13 games. It’s not the end of the world, Boston fans. Let’s look forward to Chicago on Wednesday as we try to get back on track. If I’m not worried, neither should you.