Confused? Wrestling with conflicting emotions? Then welcome to the club because that pretty much sums up how Celtics fans feel four games into the 2018-2019 season. It started promisingly, with a 105-87 dismantling of what many consider to be their chief rivals in the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers. But if we are truly being honest with ourselves, our emotions are not so much conflicting as they are steeped in disappointment due to what has transpired since.
Despite their opening night win over the Sixers, the Celtics were man-handled by the Raptors, a team viewed by many as a paper tiger, slept walked through a narrow win over the hapless Knicks, then fell as 12-point home favorites to the Magic. Perhaps the only upside in the 93-90 loss to Orlando was the return of increased ball movement from Boston, which generated more open looks. It was a more team-oriented effort than the previous three but moving the ball means nothing if the shots aren’t sinking. Nobody knows that better than Jaylen Brown who has been struggling out of the gate, averaging just a click over nine points per game and shooting at a 34 percent clip from the field. The Celts are connecting on just 41.2 percent of their shots as a team and that’s not good enough to win consistently in the NBA.
A .500 record never felt so empty but the good news is that there are 78 more games to turn our frowns upside down. In a town like Boston, anything less than competing for a world championship will quickly turn the fans sour because the Patriots, Red Sox, and to a lesser extent, the Bruins, have set the bar embarrassingly high. But the Celtics have amassed so much talent that representing the East in the NBA Finals is not a hope but an expectation. Had Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward been healthy and in uniform, there is no doubt that Boston would have been battling the Warriors last June and not the Cavaliers. But that’s revisionist history, we’re expecting greatness this season and right now our boys in green are barely mediocre.
If misery loves company then look no further than the Celtics’ next opponent. The Oklahoma City Thunder has yet to win a game this season and will be looking to snap that streak in front of their home crowd on Thursday night. Whenever we want to know which way the wind is blowing and how the professional oddsmakers view matchups, like Boston’s rumble with the Thunder, our first move is to surf on over to Sportsbook Review. SBR is a site completely dedicated to all things sports betting. Clicking on their NBA odds page, we see lines from all of the best online sportsbooks but the name towering above all others is Bovada. Whether you’re a recreational or professional sports bettor, Bovada has it all from the latest lines on all the major (and not so major) sports as well as in-game wagering and proposition bets.
It appears that Boston’s uninspiring start, coupled with OKC’s due factor (due to win at some point), has essentially boiled this early season contest down to a coin flip, as the line at Bovada shows this game as a pick’em. If the Celtics could leave Oklahoma City winless before their last two dates in October with Detroit, that would at least demonstrate a solid win over a tough opponent in their own gym. Saturday night the Celts will travel to the Motor City to tipoff against the presently undefeated Pistons before getting reacquainted with Detroit at the Garden on Tuesday night.
It appears the C’s are still getting acclimated to each other, as strange as that may seem, because the only new faces of any consequence are Hayward (who suffered a grotesque leg break in last year’s opener and never returned) and rookie first-rounder Robert Williams. The season is a marathon and not a sprint so let’s not despair…not just yet.