After an offseason that saw Boston lose Ray Allen, yet gain enough talent to supposedly remain title contenders, the team is off to a lukewarm 2-2 start.
More troubling than the Celtics’ record, though, is their performances during both their wins and losses. Not only are Rajon Rondo and company scoring just 96 points per game, putting them in the bottom half of that category, but their allowing opponents to shoot over 46 percent from the field, eighth most in the NBA.
Yes, it’s still early and the Celtics are still working out some kinks, but this is troubling. And it shows on the court.
Boston got blown out by the Miami Heat in the first game of the season, then proceeded to lose to an inferior Milwaukee Bucks team. Despite winning its next two, the going hasn’t gotten any easier either. The Celtics struggled to put away a John Wall-less Washington Wizards team not once, but twice.
That’s a problem. For a team that boast the talents of Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, that’s a serious problem.
Is it serious enough for the Celtics to hit the panic button this early in the season?
Simply put, yes.
I understand the year is still young, but Boston as a whole isn’t. The Celtics bet big on a number of aging players, none more prominent than Garnett and Jason Terry. And neither of them are performing up to snub.
Pierce and Rondo are off to a respectable start, but that’s no longer enough for this team. Rondo is the only true superstar at this point. Garnett, Pierce and Terry are feared most because of their reputations, not because of what they can do on the court. There is a case to be made that this doesn’t apply to Pierce, that he is still a superstar, yet even with him maintaining such a status, the Celtics aren’t in great shape.
Aside from the previously noted struggles, Boston is averaging just 39 rebounds per-game, fourth worst in the league. The team was dead last in rebounds per bout in 2011-12 and was supposed to improve upon that this season.
While technically they have, it hasn’t been by much. Even the Celtics’ usual stingy defense is suffering, as they are allowing nearly 100 points per contest, the eighth most in the league right now.
You see, it’s not just one issue Boston needs to address—there are a bevy of them. While most will continue to preach that the season is barely underway, the fact is the Celtics aren’t the team they were supposed to be. And that should worry them.
Because no matter how early it is, struggling to beat a team like the Wizards, while falling in stride to a team like the Bucks and being blown out by your “greatest” rival is not an indicator of a team prepared to contend.
But rather a team that was built to chase expectations they’re simply not going to meet.
Dan Favale is an avid basketball analyst and firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His work can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.