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In November, when the Celtics stood at 10-10, I wrote about the whereabouts of Danny Ainge's stethoscope - the one he used prior to Game Seven of the 1984 Finals. After a loss to the Lakers, Larry Bird called out his team as being sissies without heart. Danny brought the medical instrument to the locker room to test the heartbeats, or lack thereof, of his fellow Celtics. Get the stethoscope out again, Danny. This 2018-19 Celtics version generally lacks heart.



This is a group that gets complacent and lazy with a decent lead - and they lack the grit to comeback from deficits. They sit in 5th place in the East with a winning record, but we expected more than that. The season if half-gone, but inconsistency remains an issue.

I have no issues with the starting backcourt of Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart. What the Hell more can we ask of Kyrie? He is clearly frustrated. Smart? He sits at the 18th ranking in Real Plus Minus for the entire League. For certain games, I focus mainly on his defense. It is outstanding. And damn it - he is even hitting shots now.

Gordon Hayward has been the subject of criticism, but not from me. He is the new guy in town, and he s still trying to come back from a devastating injury - one that frankly may require a whole season to reach 100%. Jaylen Brown is gifted with a superior basketball physique and talent, but he needs to get his head on straight. Ditto for Jayson Tatum. His frequent Kobe Bryant impersonations need adjustment. But he is only 20 years old.

But the real question is the general lack of heart and grit to overcome obstacles - and to win games. What would Red Auerbach say? Are you shitting me! His teams of the 60's won a huge number of games with few patrons in the stands. The 70's was not much better. I used to get Christmas Cards from Red himself for bringing busloads of young people to fill the seats. Red and Tommy Heinsohn put up with no nonsense. Nor did Bill Fitch in the early 80's. Players of today perform to full houses - get paid enormous money - and are fortunate to perform as part of the truly-big-business called pro basketball.


Danny Ainge may have been known as a gunner and complainer, but he always came to play. He is a student of Red, and he knows who has heart and who doesn't. He loves guys like Marcus Smart and would like more of them. Actually, he doesn't need his stethoscope. He already knows who he wants on his hopefully-Championship squad. I doubt he sees this present crew as being capable of going all the way to a Title.

In a recent Twitter poll, the majority of respondents indicated the solution for Boston is for Brad Stevens to take control of his troops. Coming in second was for the Celtics to go for a trade. We will see at least one of these two options occur prior to February 7th, the trade deadline. We may see both happen. You don't win Championships without heart. This team needs a shakeup, and Larry Bird is not walking through that door.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC, @CelticsSentinel and Facebook

Photo via Matt Stone/Boston Herald

Tom Lane 1/14/2019 10:01:00 AM Edit
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