When he was teaching the New England Patriots, Invoice Parcells uttered what has grow to be a well-known maxim in sports activities: “You might be what your file says you might be.”
After the Boston Celtics, dropped to 15-15 due to a horrific collapse within the Massive Straightforward Sunday afternoon, dropping 120-115 to the New Orleans Pelicans after main by as many as 24 factors within the second half, it actually applies to them.
“We have numerous issues to scrub up, clearly,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens stated.
Sunday’s debacle was a microcosm of Boston’s season as a complete. The Celtics obtained moments of brilliance from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who even on off days for them total nonetheless mixed to attain 57 factors. In the meantime, they did not get a lot from everybody else, as the remainder of the group solely managed 58 factors whereas taking pictures 4-for-20 from 3-point vary.
Eleven of these misses got here from Kemba Walker, whose up-and-down (although largely down) play since debuting in early January after finishing a 12-week strengthening program for his troublesome left knee has been as fixed as Boston’s continued hovering round .500. After Walker had his greatest sport of the season Friday night time in a win over the Atlanta Hawks, scoring 28 factors and going 10-for-16 from the sphere — the fourth time this season Walker hit at the very least half his pictures — Stevens gently chided his level guard’s critics, and Tatum stated the All-Star guard’s play is starting to return round.
Walker adopted that up by going 5-for-21 in a season-high 36 minutes Sunday, together with a 1-for-12 mark from 3-point vary. He is now taking pictures 37.1 p.c for the season, and the Celtics are being outscored with him on the ground.
General, the Celtics seem like a group that by no means changed Gordon Hayward, who has performed at an All-Star stage after signing with the Charlotte Hornets within the offseason. Clearly the current lack of Marcus Sensible to a calf pressure — an harm that has saved Sensible out of the lineup since Jan. 30, and one which ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier than Sunday’s sport will hold Sensible out till after subsequent month’s All-Star Break — is a part of Boston’s troubles. However the Celtics additionally did nothing to exchange Hayward’s manufacturing on the wing within the offseason. As an alternative, they signed one other level guard (Jeff Teague) and one other middle (Tristan Thompson) on a roster heavy on gamers at each positions.
Teague has been an abject catastrophe, taking pictures beneath 30 p.c on 2-point pictures this season and deservedly being banished from Stevens’ rotation in favor of rookie Payton Pritchard. Thompson, in the meantime, has slowly labored his manner again into kind after a hamstring pressure value him all of coaching camp together with his new group. However even his improved play has left Stevens juggling a rotation that he admitted earlier than Sunday’s sport is imbalanced thanks to a few of Boston’s higher gamers — Thompson, Daniel Theis and Robert Williams — all being facilities.
“I’ve stated this all 12 months: one of many challenges of our group is that you just get previous our greatest perimeter gamers, and the following in all probability three greatest guys so far as manufacturing goes to this point on our group are, at first blush, fives,” Stevens stated.
As Stevens continues to seek for wing manufacturing, the group’s different rookie, Aaron Nesmith, has been the primary participant off the bench the previous 5 video games. And whereas he is been nice, he is not something near an approximation of what Hayward was for Boston final 12 months — not to mention what he is been for Charlotte this season.
That has left a heavy burden on Tatum and Brown to supply for the Celtics. And in video games like Sunday afternoon, when Walker was struggling to hit from the perimeter, that allowed New Orleans to throw every little thing on the two of them with out worrying about anybody else on the court docket — a system that allowed the Pelicans to claw their manner again from a large deficit and, ultimately, win in time beyond regulation.
“Clearly we gave ourselves an opportunity in time beyond regulation,” Tatum stated. “But when we wish to be a extremely good group we have to place groups away earlier, particularly being up 20-something factors.
“However we allow them to come again.”
Whereas Stevens has never fairly stated it the best way Parcells as soon as did, he hasn’t been shy to level out that, as Boston has hovered round .500 for the previous few weeks, there’s little motive to consider the group’s present kind ought to enable it to be higher than that. Sure, Boston hasn’t had Sensible, however just about each group has handled vital absences attributable to both harm or the NBA’s well being and security protocols relating to the continued COVID-19 pandemic.
The mixture of these ongoing struggles, together with the group’s president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge, declaring, “Our roster clearly shouldn’t be good … there isn’t any if’s, and’s or however’s about it” in a radio interview this week, will place a vibrant highlight on Boston between now and subsequent month’s commerce deadline.
From the time Boston wakes up Monday morning, it is going to be 31 days till the March 25 deadline – a stretch through which the Celtics, armed with all of their first spherical picks going ahead and a large commerce exception from Hayward’s departure in the course of the offseason, will likely be anticipated to make a transfer to complement their present roster.
If they will, they will have a chance to make a run in an Japanese Convention that options a number of potential contenders – Boston included – that every one have extreme flaws. If they can not, it is arduous to see how they may.
In any case, we’re 30 video games right into a 72-game season and the Celtics are a .500 group. And, on this case, their file says precisely what they’re.