The patience of Celtics fans is being tested in the recent weeks. The team has underperformed so far, and some worrying questions have begun to rise from the recent lackadaisical display from the players this season.
It seems we are not the only ones experiencing some uneasy moments as fans of the best franchise in sports. Ainge is upset and did not try to hide it in an interview today:
Asked if he would consider major changes to the roster if the Celtics don't show significant improvement between now and the trading deadline, Ainge acknowledged that he would have to consider the possibility.
"I’m committed to the guys as long as they’re going to perform, but they’ve got to perform," he said. "They’ve got to show they have an opportunity to win. Otherwise, I’ve got to at least make an effort to go another direction."
Concerning our recent game against the Mavericks, Ainge didn´t sweeten words to describe what he saw:
Ainge had a dim view of his 4-5 team following what he referred to as a "miserable" performance in Wednesday's loss to the Mavericks.
"I think that’s a fair assessment right now," Ainge said when asked whether the team looks too old. "Nine games into the season, yeah, that would be a fair assessment, but I’m hoping that guys are better than they’re playing and they have something left, but time will tell."
According to our GM, there are some specific areas that need to be addressed:
"For three years now, we have been the worst offensive rebounding team in basketball. The second thing is, the execution of our offense, our offensive efficiency in the last five minutes of the game, I think those two things have got to be improved. I don’t necessarily know why that hasn’t happened. It’s not just personnel, because we’ve had a lot of good offensive rebounders on this team.
"I just don’t understand why we’re last. We don’t have to be first," he added. "It’s not based on shooting percentage. When we talk about offensive rebounding, we’re talking about offensive rebound percentage. If we shoot 40-for-80, there’s 40 rebounding opportunities when we miss and we get eight of those, that’s 20 percent. That’s what we’re playing at. It’s not enough. We’ve got to get up to 25 percent, to the middle of the pack."
So there you go, the big boss sounds unhappy and he may be using this interview to motivate the players to finally show some fire. Ainge has shown in his tenure as Celtics boss that he is not afraid to pull the trigger at all and he may be forced to do so sooner than later.
Some problems go way beyond the age of our Big Three. Our current MLE center (Wilcox) is averaging 1 point and 2 rebounds per game and our former MLE signing (O'Neal) averages 5 and 4. Yes, you have read it correctly: Our center position - for which we pay around $10 million- is netting 6 points and 6 rebounds per game. One wonders if it hadn´t been wiser to spend less of that money for a single guy that could do all that and much more (Perkins). There is something wrong when fans think a guy like Stiemsma should start for a championship contender.
Hopefully the addition of Pietrus would boost our bench. Also, Paul Pierce is expected to get in better shape which will increase our chances to become a serious team. KG has seemed to be more aggressive and regain some of his game although he needs more help to be the defensive anchor of this team. Playing with Perkins helped him develop this task. Now he´s been left alone out there and he is proving he cannot do what he did in his Minnesota days.
Unfortunately, in order to get something you need to also propose something else in exchange. Do not expect people to call Ainge inquiring about Jermaine or Wilcox. That´s where it could get scary, guys. All those teams out there will want to ask whether Rondo or Allen are available at the right price.
It will be both interesting and quite frightening and only a better performance by our players will have a say in preventing Ainge from breaking the Big 4.
Hopefully big changes won´t be needed and we will win the next three games ahead.