The Importance of Composure

There are a lot of labels that come with having a veteran core. Patience, intelligence, consistency, etc. Composure is a word that pops up a lot too. "Young teams find it hard to close out games, they lack composure". Now the Celtics have a veteran core, a fact that is constantly repeated, but do they have the composure that seemingly is supposed to come with it? I wouldn't answer without some hesitation.

Now composure seems to be a word that could have several meanings in this context. I'm not really talking about things like hitting late game shots, or things like that. I'm talking about the mental strength to overcome rough patches during games. Keep playing the way you have been playing when the other team makes a run. Keeping your own run going when the other team tries to kill it. The Celtics do have their moments when they do this, and do it well. But for a "veteran core", they don't seem to have the consistency in that department.

A recent example would be the end of the Celtics-Bulls game, where Rondo made the poor decision to throw the ball to Pierce on the sideline. Now the Bulls basically doubled Garnett on that possession, but Terry was an option. Now Pierce should have got two free throws anyway, but he never should have been put into a situation where the possibility of error was unnecessarily high. But I would not even call that the most egregious error I saw during the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.

On a previous play, Terry got the ball and the Bulls ran to foul him. For whatever reason, he decided to throw a pass to Garnett with Jimmy Butler right in the passing lane. Now luckily Garnett got the ball and the free throws, so that possession did not end up in a turnover. But the fact that Jason Terry, a 14-year veteran, made such a poor decision in such a crucial moment says a lot. The Celtics did get screwed by a bad call, but they did not make the "veteran" plays to win that game before that blown call.

Now the players are not the only culprits in this situation. Doc Rivers, a former player, did not keep his composure during the Celtics-Pistons game. When the Celtics made a big run in the second quarter, they used a lineup of Rondo/Lee/Pierce/Green/Garnett. When the Celtics came out and Detroit started swinging punches, did that lineup see another minute? If they did I didn't notice. Rotations are impossible to get down perfectly, but the fact that Doc never went back to that lineup is something you would expect to see from a young coach.

Veteran players and coaches have certain expectations attached to them. The Celtics have the personnel, but the results haven't been what we've expected. There is no reason why the Celtics should be acting like a team full of rookies. Execution is key to winning games, and we obviously haven't been winning.

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