The cruelty of the NBA schedule is rearing its ugly head lately on team green. The Celtics look tired and disengaged, unable to turn it on when the game is on the line, and losing to sub par teams on hustle points on turnovers, a sure sign that the team is gassed. Remember what Clifford Ray said, you beat yourself, turnovers and hustle points are a matter of concentration and energy. If you cannot summon it, than you cannot win basketball games.
Want some proof as to this gassedness, when was the last time you saw Ray Allen miss two wide open three pointers like he did last night? When was the last time he air balled a wide open three? Seriously, when? Ugh, Ray needs a day off. Badly. He’s been hurting us in the some of these losses, especially on Christmas, in Portland, and again last night. Let’s not forget he was playing exemplary ball for the first two months of the season. His drop off is a big drag on the team, when you combine it with the fact that Tony Allen is already on his all-star break vacation.
But Ray’s not alone, Garnett looks like he’s yelling at his body out there, trying to coax energy from every pore, but his game has slipped in the last seven games. The jumper isn’t automatic, the post game is ineffectual. He’s never been a great post up man, but he looks terrible out there on the block. I’ve grown to dislike the fade-away to a scary point. He needs some time with Clifford Ray.
Rondo looks like he’s hit a mini-wall, the combination of becoming the focal point of the opposing teams defensive strategy and even Perk looks like he’s a little out of sorts. It was tough watching Emeka Okafor beast on Perkins last night, real tough. The only player unaffected by everything is Paul Pierce, who must be made of steel, because he never waivers. It’s a testament to Pierce’s resiliency and conditioning that he’s maintained his level of excellence while the others have dipped. I’ve really grown to admire this man’s skill. He’s every bit deserving of being in the pantheon of Celtics players. We always knew he was great but its watching him rise above hall of fame teammates that makes you realize how special a player he is. I just love watching this guy play the game.
Still, let’s face it, we’re 2-5 since the 19-game winning streak and you can’t put perfume on that pig. If you factor in the fact that the Portland game was a bit of a fluke, you’ve still got four bona fide losses in the past seven games. These weren’t flukes, they got outplayed and outworked by three sub-.500 teams. That’s the sure sign that this team is mentally losing its grasp. The truth is we need a rest. However, we’re not going to get one, so this team needs a mental vacation, like Tom Heinsohn said last night. Doc needs to bring in some speakers for practice, crank some Funkadellic, some Commodores, some People’s Choice, anything to get these guys out of their head and back on the groove. Further, KG and Ray need a night off. Give em’ one night each and take the loss against the Rockets. Who cares? This is a marathon and we need these guys to be sharper. Garnett is obviously struggling through some leg issues and Ray looks like he needs to make nice with the rim again.
The NBA schedule sucks, that’s why a coach has to step up once in a while and make guys sit. Further, sometimes a coach has to get tossed from a game. Last night, when guys where hip-checking the Celtics and hacking the team with blatant disregard for human life, Rivers should have gotten tossed. But, that’s not the kind of coach he is, so we’ll live with it, wishing we had a guy like Bill Fitch once in a while.
- The current streak of futility got me researching and I found something interesting that might get people’s spirits up. According to Basketball-reference.com the 1985-86 team had their own dip in the mud with a 2-4 stretch in December as well that culminating in a humiliating loss at the hands of a dreadful Knicks team on Christmas Day. The Celtics went on to punish the league for three more months, amassing two big win streaks of 14 and 13 games respectively and then march through the playoffs to a championship. The lesson as always is, it’s only January stupid.