The Celtics are on a tiny skid at the moment, but why???
The Celtics' loss to the Philadelphia 76er's adds up to their first 3 game losing streak of the season. Photo via Mitchell Leff
As of right now, the Boston Celtics are 4-4 in their last 8 games and are currently on a 3 game losing streak, with their last loss coming at the hands of a Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia 76er's. The recent play of the Celtics has gotten a lot of fans talking, many overreacting to a couple of pretty bad games. However, there could be some bigger long term issues that the Celtics must address at some point if we want to finally get over the hump we have been stuck at for the past few seasons. Here are some of the most talked-about issues surrounding the Boston Celtics amongst the fans and the NBA community alike.
Is Celtics' head coach Brad Stevens the problem in Boston's status? Photo via Maddie Meyer
When Brad Stevens came on to lead the Celtics through their inevitable rebuild in 2013 their was a sense of mystery behind where he would take them. Having come off of an impressive 6-year stint at Butler, Stevens seemed like the right guy to take on the restart. Only missing the playoffs in his first year, the Celtics under Brad Stevens were only trending upwards in the first three seasons of his young NBA career. Despite a lack of what many considered to be "all-star talent," Stevens and the Celtics progressed all the way to a one seed in the Eastern Conference during the 2017 NBA season and a game away from the NBA finals a year after despite lacking newly acquired all-stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward due to injuries.
While Brad quickly gained a reputation as one of the smarter and more talented coaches in the NBA, public perception of him and his role has started to fall in the past couple of seasons. When you have had as much talent on a roster as the Celtics have had recently and you do not go anywhere with it, it makes a lot of sense for people to start looking towards the coaching. Many fans have grown furious with Stevens claiming his lack of adjustment, his weak motives, and his poor decision making are our biggest obstacles in getting over the hump we have faced in the past and currently face right now.
For me personally, I was a massive Brad Stevens fan and defender in his early years with Boston as many others were and I do not believe the skid we currently find ourselves on is his fault. However, I would be lying if I said I too haven't grown annoyed with his decisions and attitude over the last year or so. There have been SO MANY missed time out opportunities, and the ones that get me the worst are when the opponent starts to go on a comeback run and Stevens consistently waits to call a timeout until they have already caught up. Something else is that whenever the team plays well, he's always the first one to say "we're not as good as we think we are," but when dumb mistakes are made and bad basketball is being played he's not as direct on the players as he should be and lets them get away with a lot.
With all that said, I'm not going to act like I know more about basketball than Brad Stevens. I don't. And honestly, there are not a lot of people outside of the NBA sphere who do (relatively speaking). As of right now, I think Stevens still has a lot of potential and I do not believe he has shown enough negative qualities that would lead Ainge or the Celtics to point the finger at him. Is there a world where the Boston Celtics win an NBA Championship with Brad Stevens as their head coach? I think it's possible. The real question is how much more time do we give him to show us that?
Do we need a trade?
Detriot Pistons' center Andre Drummond is currently a rumored trade target for the Boston Celtics. Photo via Johnathon Bachman
What is the most consistently talked about duo in the NBA? Is it LeBron and Anthony Davis? Is it Kawhi and Paul George? Is it Steph and Klay? The answer is none of those, it's the Boston Celtics and trader rumors. With their heavily mentioned "treasure trove" of assets, the Boston Celtics seem to be in the conversation whenever there is a big player on the trade market or if the team's play starts to dip. Right now, we find ourselves in that time again.
Despite the above-average play our current bigs have shown as of late, many fans are calling for the Celtics to finally pull the trigger on a trade that brings a solid, established big man to Boston. While I do not hate the idea of adding a big, the problem with that is we would have to give up a player or two that is currently in our main rotation, someone like Gordon Hayward or Marcus Smart. Now everyone has that player they want to get rid of in favor of a new asset, but the thing is the Celtics as currently constructed have the fifth-best record in the NBA and if not for injuries early on in the season might even sit higher in the rankings.
What this team will do in the playoffs is yet to be seen, and perhaps that is where a big would come in handy the most. But much like the coaching, I do not think where we find ourselves right now demands immediate and dramatic change and I also don't think this is the nail in the coffin that pushes "trader Danny" to get rid of an expensive, high-value piece in favor of a desired one that may or may not be a better fit.
Could all of this just be an overreaction?
Celtics celebrate in their big rally against the Milwaukee Bucks early in the season. Photo via Winslow Townson
Look, Boston sports fans are the best sports fans in the country with a lot of the best sports organizations in the country. You could look high and low and never find a more loyal, passionate group of people anywhere. However, we do have a tendency to overreact to speed bumps like this in any sport. Do some concerns turn out to be warranted? Of course, the Celtics' drama last season and the Patriots deconstruction this season being two of the most recent examples of that. But more times than not the opposite happens, and we freak out about something that is just a brief hiccup in a greater monologue. We have to keep the context of the situation in mind.
The Celtics came into the season with the rest of the country setting a low bar. Immediately out of the gate, they hurdled that bar and played some of the most exciting and entertaining basketball we have seen in a while. Now, we're approaching the midway point of the season and with things like injuries and illnesses reoccurring the Celtics might just be in a little bit of a midseason funk. This happens to teams every single year, which is why something like the all-star break is so important. When teams get back, it is almost like a fresh start.
Now, this is in no way an excuse for the bad losses we have faced in the past week or so. Inconsistent play, poor decision making, and sometimes a lack of effort is at the forefront of at least the last three games. What this is though is a reminder to not overreact to things like this. Last year was different. There was locker room drama and shade being thrown left and right. This team does not have that. This team enjoys playing together and has fun playing together. Right now, they are going through a phase, as many teams do. Long story short, that's what I think this skid can be attributed to. It is a funk, a phase, and nothing to get too worked up about.
But what do you guys think? Is this just a phase or is it something more? Is it finally time to seriously look at the coaching? Do we actually need to make a trade to cover all of our corners? Or is it something smaller than any of that? Let me know in the comments down below.