After losing four straight games, the Celtics went on a six game winning streak, one that included four victories over playoff hopefuls. Since then, Boston has dropped another three in a row, two of which have come against an Eric Gordon-less New Orleans Hornets and a streaky, yet lottery-bound Detroit Pistons team.
For a title contender, that’s unacceptable. But perhaps that’s okay, because it’s become abundantly clear the Celtics aren’t a legitimate title title contender.
Almost needless to say, Rivers (via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com), is irate and not at all opposed to breaking Boston’s underwhelming faction up:
Rivers’ post-game comments left an unmistakable impression that he has had all he’s going to take from this Celtics team that continues to play erratic, inconsistent and underachieving basketball.
“I gotta either find the right combination or the right guys, or we’re going to get some guys out of here,” said a visibly upset Rivers after the Celtics lost their third straight game. “That’s the bottom line. This group right now, they’re not playing right. It’s in them to play right. But right now they haven’t been either because I’m not getting to them, or they’re not getting to each other.”
Said Boston’s Kevin Garnett: “I’m pretty sure Doc’s upset and frustrated like everybody else here right now. He’s mad as me, he thinks in those terms. I’m a player and I have to say, ‘what can I do better?’ That’s where I’m at.”
Though Rivers is never one to shy away from speaking his mind, these most recent sentiments are different.
If the Celtics’ head coach is ready to watch this thing burn, then you better believe that Danny Ainge and company are going to burn it. Boston owes $76 million in payroll and that’s not a bill a team foots when they’re toiling with oblivion. Not willingly.
Even when Ainge had said he was content with the Celtics’ roster, the possibility of the team making moves was always there. Now, after Rivers’ outburst, it’s more like a certainty.
You see, the problems with Boston’s personnel are both simple and complex. This roster is as imbalanced as they come, and it’s up to the front office (at the behest of Doc) to figure out how to fix it. The Celtics have halfcourt studs like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett playing alongside a full court point guard in Rajon Rondo. That’s a problem. Their personnel doesn’t complement each other enough. Not anymore.
Which means that Boston is going to have to (finally) pick a direction. Are the Celtics committed to Rondo beyond reason? Are they willing to move Paul Pierce in favor of some younger, fresher legs? Or is this team better off building around their halfcourt veterans, in which case Rondo shouldn’t be off limits?
Those are the questions the Celtics need to answer. Once they do, it’s then up to them to chase the right personnel. Is an athletic wing like Rudy Gay the way to go? Must they target a big man first? Will they have to pursue both?
Simply letting this season play out (like last) is no longer going to cut it. Not when Boston is struggling to play .500 basketball halfway through the season. Not when the Celtics are clinging to the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot. Not when Rivers is agitated beyond reason.
And most certainly not when the Celtics are nearing a point of irreparable damage.
Thus, something has to be done soon. A move will have to be made. I know it, you know it, and deep down Ainge and the Celtics know it too.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.