The All-Star break couldn’t come at a better time for the Celtics
Every year NBA fans and players alike look forward to All-Star Weekend and the on-going festivities. Despite the fact that the dunk contest and game, itself, seem to have lost a lot of luster over recent years, the weekend still serves a great purpose in giving teams some time off from a very busy schedule. No team across the league fit this bill more right now than our own Boston Celtics.
Having come off four losses in their last five games, Brad Stevens’ squad has began to hit it’s worst skid of the 2017-18’ season as they actually have gone 6-9 in their last 15 total. The C’s probably wouldn’t even be above .500 since the start of the New Year (they’re only a game above) if not for the winning streak that they rode into 2018.
Jaylen Brown on the Celtics' recent struggles: "I think we got a little complacent. We're so used to winning, we take it for granted. We've got a lot of talent, so we've got to prove to everybody who we are and why we're the Boston Celtics."
For a team that was sitting pretty atop the East for almost all of the first three months of the season, the Celtics no longer look like a perennial lock for the Eastern Conference Finals. Noted above in a statement by second-year swingman, Jaylen Brown, his belief is that the recent struggles could be blamed on the team’s complacency.
Even the biggest Celtics homers can’t deny that the team should no longer be considered a lock for the ECF. Within the span of a week recently, the team was trounced by both it’s two biggest threats in the conference.
Starting with a hideous performance north of the border getting ran out of Canada by the Toronto Raptors, the team’s fortunes in the following days only got worse as LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers spoiled Paul Pierce’s jersey retirement and once again proved themselves to still be the top dawgs in the East. After a complete overhaul of their roster, the Cavs already look geared back up for another playoff run without even getting Kevin Love back from his hand injury yet.
I’m concerned about the Celtics. Repeat: I AM CONCERNED.
Although Bill Simmons may have you thinking otherwise, all is not lost though for this young Celtics squad just yet. The team has a bunch of time, starting with this weekend, to hit the reset button and try to get back to doing a lot of the things that made them so successful earlier in the year.
With the impending return of Marcus Smart back to the lineup after the end of the break, Stevens should expect his players to exert some of the defensive tenacity that they’ve seemed to have lost. As a team who identifies mostly with their ability to win games on that side of the ball, getting their best defensive player back should do wonders.
Remember when tons of Celtics twitter was ready to get rid of Marcus Smart after Rozier had the triple double?
The Celtics have been getting punked for almost two straight weeks because they play soft. You know who doesn't play soft? Marcus Smart
Along with #36 returning into the fold, fellow backup-guard, Shane Larkin, is slated for a return in a similar time frame. While the University of Miami product has seen limited minutes in green this year, he’s come up big in a lot of situations unexpectedly and been an igniter for the second unit at times.
While we know some of the Celtics will be participating in some of the events starting with Brown and Jayson Tatum in the Rising Stars Challenge tonight, let’s hope that the rest of the team is able to use this weekend as a good opportunity to rest of up for the home stretch. TD Garden was already filled with a playoff atmosphere during that loss to Cleveland and the team should expect more of the same as April gets closer and closer.
For any fans interested in watching Jaylen and Jayson go to work against some of other premier, young talent in the league, the game tonight will start at 9 PM on TNT.