What in the name of Red Auerbach is wrong with the Boston Celtics? The preseason favorites to win the Eastern Conference have gotten off to an inconsistent start now sitting at 7-6, 6th place in the East. There’s still plenty of time to turn it around but something needs to happen soon to prove that they are still among the elite teams.
The return of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward: This isn’t necessarily anybody’s fault but eventually this team needs to mesh together, or someone will get traded. Kyrie has regained his pre-injury, all-star caliber form recently. Gordon Hayward just started playing regular 5 on 5 basketball in September after basically never playing with his Celtics teammates. He is starting to shake off the rust and trust his ankle more, which is good. Eventually however, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown specifically need to settle in and play in unison with Kyrie and Hayward. They occasionally make to many extra passes and put themselves in position to settle for bad shots. With more practices and games with each other this problem should fix itself but if it doesn’t expect someone, most likely Jaylen Brown or maybe Terry Rozier to be traded to shake up Brad Steven’s rotations.
Can’t hit a wide-open shot: Many Celtics offensive possessions are resulting in shots that are basically as open as playing by yourself, but they continuously miss them. Classifying wide open shots as no defenders within a 4-5 foot radius the Celtics are tops in the NBA with about 40% of their shots being this open but they are towards the bottom in making them. Marcus Morris is all around (for 2 pointers and 3 pointers) the Celtics only player making an acceptable amount of these shots. This is nothing Brad Stevens can fix; the players have proven they can make these shots and hopefully eventually this is a collective slump and the will bounce back into form.
Clutch Defense: Despite having the best defensive rating in the NBA the Celtics are among the worst clutch time defensive teams in the league. They are 5-6 in close games this season allowing their opponents to shoot 50% from the field and 42% from 3-point range. They will dig themselves into a hole early on with a lack of offense but good defense then storm back with good defense and offense and finish with good offense and poor defense. This just seems like a lack of effort on the Celtics end for not finishing out games.
There is still time to fix all these issues and they are showing signs of breaking through but the need a couple statement games in a row to prove that they are still the same team people expected them to be. Whether it be starting to shoot better then the late defense comes next or vice versa but something needs to step up first to prove that the Celtics won’t lie down and accept that they aren’t good right now.