By Zach Coffey
After starting the year with 4-2 winning record, the Celtics had their hopes set on yet another successful season. Since then, the Celtics have gone 6-8 and have struggled to stay consistent. Before the season was underway, NBA analysts predicted that the Celtics might start slow. The team had to re-introduce two stars, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, who both returned from serious injuries. Plus, two of their best players during the postseason were Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown who have a mere three years of NBA experience between them. With that being said, this is the worst start for the Celtics through their first 20 games since the 2015 season.
Many people are pointing to several different reasons for the Celtics’ rough patch. One theory is that it is because they do not have a lot of veterans on the roster. Irving commented on the veteran leadership on the roster, “Looking at this locker room, me being in my eighth year and being a veteran as well as Al and Baynes, right now I think it would be nice if we had someone that was a 15-year vet … That could kind of help us race along the regular season and understand it’s a long marathon rather than just a full-on sprint, when you want to play, when you want to do what you want to do. It’s all about attitude and effort. That’s all it is.”
Others are blaming the poor start to the Celtics offensive struggles, as well as, new lineups constantly being introduced. Boston ranks 27th overall in offensive rating. There are many other areas that Boston needs to improve on. Most notable is their free-throw attempt rate. Boston ranks second in the NBA in that category.
When asked a question regarding the Celtics re-introducing a player like Gordon Hayward, Coach Brad Stevens commented, “That has a lot to do with it, but it’s not just those guys. It’s everybody, learning how to play with one another and understand our roles on the team. That’s been our biggest challenge so far this season.” Coach Stevens isn’t turning a blind eye to the fact that the Celtics have many new pieces this year and is working to find rotations that work the best for the team.
Since the Celtics lost to the Mavericks on November 24th, they have stepped their game up. They have won their last three games against the Cavaliers, Pelicans, and the Timberwolves.
Hayward had to say this after the most recent game, “It’s slowly coming along. I think my confidence is slowly coming back too. I’m still not where I want to be, but for sure me attacking is better for our team and not being hesitant or passive.” Hayward is confident that the team will soon hit their stride and reach their true full potential.
The Celtics continue to try and find their identity as a basketball team. With the hype the team received in all the preseason polls the team has high expectations to live up to and there is no doubt that they have the talent to do so. This week the Celtics will take on the Knicks and Bulls and look to build upon their three-game win streak.