With ten video games left within the 2022-2023 common season, the Celtics are 49-32 and third within the East, share factors behind the 76ers and two and a half video games again of the Bucks with a recreation towards every to shut out the common season. There’s time and alternative to make up the distinction, however choose up a paper or go online to Twitter and also you’d suppose we have been re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic reasonably than jockeying for playoff place.
The “what’s improper with the Celtics” dialog is legitimate. The offense that rocketed them as much as historic heights to start out the season has expectedly fallen to earth. The protection that carried them final 12 months and been excellent this 12 months has cratered for the reason that Jays and Joe Mazzulla & Co. have been lighting up All-Star Weekend. They’ve been depressingly common in March with 2.0 internet score (115.9 offensive score, 113.9 defensive score) and as usually as they’ve regarded like one of the best model of themselves, they’ve additionally regarded like a strolling mind fart far too usually.
The excellent news is that they’ve misplaced 4 video games by a mixed 9 factors. Heartbreakers for positive, however contemplating the material of an 82-game season, they’re simply unfastened ends in an in any other case profitable 12 months. The unhealthy information is the way in which they’ve been dropping. In opposition to the Nets, a 28-point second quarter lead was relinquished by halfway by the third they usually by no means responded towards a Brooklyn group now with out Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. The Celtics had wrapped their arms round a win towards the Knicks in extra time solely to cough it up within the second OT. Boston had vital leads in Cleveland and Salt Lake Metropolis within the fourth quarter, however couldn’t shut it out within the clutch.
Head coach Joe Mazzulla has wavered between “I ought to have performed Derrick White extra” and “we didn’t execute,” between some model of “you need to lose to be taught to win” and crediting the opposing group. The powerful losses haven’t precisely galvanized the group and the fan base, and there is perhaps some lingering questions earlier than spring comes round — primarily, will the Celtics proceed to start out White and predominantly play small or will Robert Williams return to the beginning lineup — however women and gents, these are your Boston Celtics.
The commerce deadline has handed. President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens nonetheless has a fifteenth roster spot to fill earlier than the playoffs, but when final season is any indication, that may probably be crammed by a G-League name up reasonably than some ring-chasing veteran. A lot handwringing has been product of who begins, who closes, and who performs in any respect. It doesn’t assist that gamers like Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard who performed giant roles in final 12 months’s Finals run have been out and in of the rotation.
There’ll all the time be second-guessing after a loss. Each Monday morning quarterback goes to decide on the street untraveled relating to what Mazzulla ought to have performed down the stretch and with the group only a recreation over .500 for the reason that break, some would possibly even query not simply the sport plan, however the full season plan from the start.
In opposition to the Jazz, Jayson Tatum grew to become the primary participant this season to cross the 2000-point mark. It’s a worthy accomplishment for an MVP candidate, however that additionally signifies that he’s placed on a whole lot of mileage on the odometer. Final 12 months, he clocked in at 2,731 minutes to shut 2021-2022 and was admittedly exhausted by the Finals after back-to-back seven-game collection towards the Bucks and Warmth. He has ticked over 2508 already, however together with yesterday’s time without work earlier than the Kings tomorrow evening, Boston performs only one recreation in six days earlier than a manageable two-game homestand this weekend. It’s as a lot a wanted bodily relaxation as it’s a psychological break after a 7-6 stretch for the reason that All-Star break.
Sure, there are going to be video games once they hand over a bunch of offensive rebounds. Six occasions this season together with Saturday evening on the second evening of a back-to-back in Utah with out Al Horford and Robert Williams, the Celtics gave up fifteen or extra offensive boards; they’re 2-4 in these video games. However let’s not overlook that Boston is one of the best defensive rebounding group within the league. That’s price repeating: Boston is one of the best defensive rebounding group within the league. They’ve performed small. They’ve performed massive. All 12 months, rebounding hasn’t been a problem.
Right here’s the subject du jour: the excessive variance with the three-point capturing might chew them within the a%& come playoff time. 9 occasions this 12 months, they’ve hit beneath 28% of their threes and loss 7 of 9 of these video games. And for what it’s price, that comes out to just about a recreation in a seven-game collection. So yeah, that would occur. Relying on how the following few weeks shake out, it’s conceivable that the Celtics might begin the second spherical and past on the street with the very actual prospect of enjoying Recreation 7 at Wells Fargo or Fiserv Discussion board. They may even throw away a recreation at house if the edges at TD Backyard or the leprechaun that lives there doesn’t cooperate.
The actual fact of the matter is, that is how the group is constructed and albeit, it’s trying an increasing number of just like the playoffs, notably within the East, are going to be a conflict of types. Even when they begin with two bigs, Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo are matchup nightmares. If the final three weeks have made you squeamish about attempting to outshoot groups and depend on smaller defenders guarding up towards greater opponents, get used to it.
They shoot a whole lot of threes and on many nights, they’re going to wish to depend on their protection when their pictures aren’t falling. They’re going to change quite a bit on protection and self-inflict unfavorable matchups on themselves. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are going to make and miss a bunch of pictures and oftentimes, they’ll want that third or fourth or fifth scorer to make up the distinction and we simply don’t know who that’s. And within the playoffs when rotations shrink, their depth and flexibility will increase extra questions than solutions. That’s a part of it, too.
These are your Boston Celtics.