It seems to be a trend for this season. For the sixth time, the Celtics lost a game. Just now, they lost a heart breaker in 2 OT to the Atlanta Hawks 123-111. But at the start of the game, you would have thought the Celtics were going to cruise with a 29-10 score after 1 period and being up 57-38 by halftime. But then the Hawks stormed back to outscore the Celtics 60-41 in the second half and then dominate in the 2OT periods 16-4.
This is the 2nd consecutive multi-game losing streak the Celtics have had this season, the first came from 12/27-1/2 when they lost 4 games in a row. What's disheartening about this current losing streak is that they lost 3 of those games to under .500 teams (16-27 Detroit Pistons, 12-32 Cleveland Cavaliers, 14-29 New Orleans Hornets). Not to mention that the Celtics squandered the chance to take advantage of another brilliant performance by their All-Star PG Rajon Rondo (16 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds in the 123-111 loss against the Hawks, his 3rd consecutive game with a triple-double).
So who is to blame for this recent skid? Since the NBA is a star-led league, everybody will no doubt try to pin all the blame on Doc Rivers. However there is more than just one culprit. First, look at the 'captain' and 'face of the franchise' SF Paul Pierce. During this 6 game losing streak, he's got a field goal percentage of 30.7% on 24-91 shooting, averaging about 13.5 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 3.6 APG, but also 5.1 turnovers per game. Second, the supposed defensive captain in Kevin Garnett has at times looked very winded and confused after long stretches of being on the court. Not to mention that he's been easily dominated by the likes of a Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Greg Monroe, or Anthony Davis to name a few big men he's faced. Finally, look at the bench itself. At times this season, you can see the likes of Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, or a Courtney Lee to come in and make a big impact (against the Hawks, Celtics bench scored 45 points compared to the 21 points scored by the Hawks bench, against Detroit Celtics bench scored 48 of the team's 88 points). Other times, fans end up scratching their heads and wonder what Danny Ainge was thinking when he assembled this team (25 points scored by Celtics bench against Chicago vs. Bulls' 36 bench points, 24 Celtics bench points vs. 30 bench points by the Knicks).
But perhaps the most disappointing was that after their loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Doc Rivers flat out said that if the situation does not improve then there will be roster changes in the future. The Celtics response: 2 more losses where the team had the lead at the end of the half or had a chance to take the lead late but made costly errors.
With the trade deadline only a few weeks away, GM Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers will have to take a deep look at this roster and make the decisions of who should stay and who should go. They should put sentiments aside and realize that unless changes are not made, then this whole season will just be a waste. Time is still on their side but for how long?
-Ryan L. Fox
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