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Time to Press the Panic Button?

Posted By Michael Johnson On Mar 30 2011 @ 8:16 pm In Boston Celtics | No Comments

The Boston Celtics have now lost 7 of their last 12 contests. Only 5 of those 12 games have come against teams that are currently prepared to head to the playoffs, and none of those playoff teams are currently ranked higher than a 7 seed. I think it’s safe to say the Celtics are in the midst of a full scale implosion.

What’s worse is that it’s impossible to tell where this team has gone wrong. Paul Pierce was interviewed two nights ago after the C’s squeaked out a 3 point victory versus the Minnesota Timberwolves, the second worst team in the NBA. He remarked that despite all of their offensive inconsistencies, the Celtics could always count on their defensive intensity. Surely this makes sense, as defense has been the cornerstone of this franchise over the past 4 seasons. Defense is paramount to success in the NBA, and no team has displayed such intensity over the past couple of seasons as the Celtics.

Fast forward one night later and the C’s allowed 107 points versus the lowly Indiana Pacers, on 55% shooting from the field. Roy Hibbert looked like a member of the all-universe team, scoring 26 points on 12-17 from the field in just 33 minutes. The Celtics depleted front line could do nothing to stop him. Nenad Kristic likely sobbed for hours on end after the game, tucked up into the fetal position and admonishing himself for his poor effort.

Elsewhere, Danny Ainge is moving forward with things, plotting his next major shakeup to propel this team forward during the offseason. As the days pass, a looming first round defeat to the 76ers or Knicks nears closer and closer every day. In Sudbury, Massachusetts Shaq is preparing for his next big photo-op, rather picking up a basketball, something he hasn’t done in close to 5 months. Suffice it to say things could be better.

Excuse my wry sense of entitlement with this team for just a moment. I expect the Celtics to win, because they are good. It’s as simple as that. They’ve proven it over the past couple of seasons, and they proved it earlier this year sans Kendrick Perkins for half of the season. If they aren’t going to act like a group of professionals down the stretch, then why should I? We have every reason to expect the best from this team. Instead what we’re presently enduring is a repeat performance of the 2nd half of last season. Shortly after Christmas Day I wrote an article signaling the impending doom of this team down the stretch. Despite my current aggravation, it appears as if my clairvoyance is unrivaled. The C’s are now 28-18 since Christmas Day, 11-8 since the all-star break, and plummeting quicker than the Japanese stock market.

The only caveat to all of this is that we’ve been here before and come out smelling fresher than roses. All of the professional sports writers and analysts, though concerned, are wary of jumping ship on the Celtics after what happened last postseason. We keep hearing phrases like “veteran leadership” and “defensive intensity” out of these analysts, who have yet to exclude the Celtics from championship contention. The one notable difference this season, however, is the alienation many of these players feel at the hands of Danny Ainge.

I had the pleasure (or perhaps displeasure) of catching up on the very well crafted series “The Association”, the other day. Episode 4 covered all angles of the Perkins trade, from the remaining players (Pierce, Garnett, Allen), to Coach Doc Rivers, GM Danny Ainge, incoming players (Jeff Green) and finally Perk himself. Certainly we all understood that the trade caused a great deal of heartache for all of those involved. Obviously we hopethat this team can power through the despair and channel that frustration into something productive, preferably a championship run. But I can’t help but feel that after it is all said and done that the shot of Perk walking into the dark and desolate Celtics practice facility is how I’m going to remember this saga. Here’s to hoping I’m wrong.

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