So much for positivity. So much for momentum. Right now our Celtics are sliding backwards, and it’s apparent to everyone – their head coach included – that this team doesn’t have what it takes to get the job done. The tipping point: A heartless, lifeless smackdown at the hands of the Detroit Pistons, just another in a season-long run of misfires, fits and starts. And Doc has had enough. His rant:
I think this team wants everything easy,” Rivers said. “They want the easy way out. They want to win easy. And I told them the only way you’re going to win easy is you’re going to have to play hard. The harder you play, the easier the games become. We’re taking the wrong approach. I’ve got to either find the right combination, the right guys, or we’re going to get some guys out of here. It’s the bottom line. Because this group right now, they are not playing right. It’s in them to play right. But right now they haven’t been — either because I’m not getting to them, or they are not getting to each other. But at the end of the day, either we’ve got to do that, or we’ve got to make changes.”
There you have it. Doc Rivers, who doesn’t have a negative bone in his DNA, finally snapped and let his team have it. He’s hating life right now and he doesn’t care who hears it. He doesn’t care if his team quits on him, because that would be an improvement over the indifference most of them display on the court.
So, is it time to start pointing fingers and picking players who might be responsible for this mess? Is it time to throw some hate at Danny Ainge for assembling this cast of underachievers?
From a player’s perspective, no. But let us analyze this team and start with the obvious. Brandon Bass and Jason Terry are clearly struggling. Is it a mental thing? Is it minutes? Roles? All of the above is probably true in both cases. In the case of Bass, it’s safe to say he’s not the player he was last year. My guess? I think it boils down to too many players built to play similar roles. Bass, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger…what are they? Center? Power forward? Small forward? In each case there is overlap, and I think Bass is feeling squeezed. He’s playing, but he’s over-thinking. He’s looking over his shoulder. He’s not comfortable in his own skin. And that’s because on one side he looks over and sees Sullinger, and on the other side he sees Green. Not the best environment for a thoughtful player like Bass.
And Terry? Injuries caused Doc to juggle the roster early on, and that has led to Terry starting instead of coming off the bench. Instead of easing into his role of leading the second unit, he found himself thrust into the mix, and with the pressure of figuring out new teammates on the fly…and with the added pressure of replacing Ray Allen. Terry can say what he wants, but he’s playing scared, too. He’s not getting it done from the field, that’s for sure – there are too many 1-for-4s on his Celtics resume to think otherwise.
I could go on, but you get the point. And Doc, for his part, has had enough. I think his rant was aimed as much at Ainge as it was at the players.
And with all of this as a backdrop, the Celtics now go to Cleveland to play the Cavaliers. Will we see the consistency that Rivers is screaming for, or will we see another hot-and-cold performance that leads to another L?
Your guess is as good as mine. And if the Celtics somehow win in dominating fashion, don’t get your hopes up.
There’s always another game following this one.