After filling us up with eternal hope, the Celtic’s seem to have taken a step backwards or two…or five. The OT loss to Chicago was a punch in the collective gut for the team and so far they have failed to show that they can get up from such a blow after what appeared to be an abysmal effort Sunday night against the Pistons.
The Celtic’s offense currently looks like none of these guys have ever played together before. The bench is outscoring the starters on any given night because the starters have seemed to fizzle in the clutch as of late. The 1-2-3 punch of Green, Sullinger, Lee have been performing rather well lately and show encouraging signs of getting even better but role players like Terry and Bass have been absolutely invisible. Strange how Jeff Green gets so much criticism after missing a full NBA season and suddenly when he starts being assertive and getting good buckets everyone wants to bench Pierce. Is that the answer? The tough questions once again must be asked as once again we have said hello to .500.
Here’s a list of tough facts the Celtic’s have to face.
Accommodating Paul Pierce- It’s plain to see that although the captain can still put up 30 on any given night, the consistency and speed of his game has dropped off considerably. He’s two steps slow on the defensive end more often than not and most nights his shooting game is a crapshoot where the odds seemingly get worse by the brick. If line up adjustments are still in order would it be too ridiculous to see Pierce come off the bench? Jeff Green’s defensive game has stepped up lately and he ranks just outside the top ten in 1 on 1 D in the NBA. unexpected right? He also could give the starting line up an even younger look and plenty of size if he were to start at the 3 position. It’s evident that this guy can be a big piece of the future, and maybe someday even an all-star caliber player, I think he just needs the minutes and the reps.
Pass on Bass- I don’t even know where to begin when talking about what the hell has happened to the ol’ reliable undersized hustler. He seems to be out of position and invisible. It’s time to give Jared Sullinger more minutes as he is almost single hand-idly fixing our rebound issues and again, gives us more size starting at the 4, and has shown beyond rookie level skill when playing around the basket. Just like Green, Sully needs more reps and more minutes.
Failure to take off- Jason Terry has become a defensive liability and is still searching for his role on this team. He fails to create for himself like Courtney Lee does and his clutch moments have been few and far between. He failed to contest a fade-away jumper from Belinelli in the final seconds of the OT loss to Chicago. I currently have him behind Barbosa in my own personal depth chart, I think Doc really needs to take a good hard look at the JET on defense and realize that Courtney Lee has been playing semi inspirational Celtic’s basketball as of late and his minute load needs to increase. I’d be happy and I think it would certainly benefit the team for Jason Terry to sink below the 15 minute mark and simply be a locker room guy and a bench spark when needed. I’m starting to fear that he just doesn’t fit like we all had imagined. If you had told me before the season started that Terry would be the last guard off the bench I would have been shocked, but I think that’s where he is now in this mess of off ball 2 guards. Lee has also now shown that he is without a doubt the best back up to Rondo in terms of the second best ball handler we have. It’s time to free Lee.
Rondo being Rondo- Gave an all-star caliber effort against the Bulls and he alone kept us in that game, but his consistency on defense has been up and down to say the least. He needs to take over. He needs to be the best player on this team. He needs to be Rondo. Simple as that but still a lot to ask of a guy who’s still playing upwards of 35 minutes of night, but isn’t this what Rondo wanted? He’s been inconsistent to be the man we all know he can be.
Tonight the Celtic’s have to show some fight and something surely has to give. The Cavs are in a prime spot to steal a game here, holding onto that 8th playoff spot isn’t a very encouraging feeling, and it sure seems as though there is a long, long, way to go for this team. We’re halfway through the season tonight, seeing 20-20.
Boston, and all points beyond