The Boston Celtics are supposed to be about mystique, not mystery.
So forgive the fans of the Green if they seem a little confused by the Celtics’ unremarkable start, featuring a player rotation so pronounced that it’s a wonder that it hasn’t yet formed a vortex.
“I think we’ve got the group.” said Celtics’ head coach Doc Rivers, “We’ve got to find the right group and the right combination at the right time. But we’re going to keep searching.”
That search continues tonight as the Celtics host the 5-21 Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden in Boston.
The Celtics return home with a 12-12 record following a disastrous road trip that saw them lose in Houston, San Antonio and Chicago – and all by double digits – while Rivers tried different combinations of players to bring consistency to the Celtics’ lineup.
The Cavaliers really don’t do anything exceptionally well, as their record would indicate, so this may not be the best game to gauge whether Rivers finds the proper mix, but just a win would be nice to stop the three game skid…
…because what awaits the Celtics after tonight’s game and into the week of Christmas is anything but a happy holiday.
Boston hosts the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night before departing on a brutal four-games-in-five- nights road trip that includes a stop in Brooklyn to play the Nets on Christmas Day before heading west to visit the Clippers, Warriors and the Sacramento Kings.
The Clippers and Warriors sit 1-2 in the Pacific division of the Western Conference, while the Kings are – well – the Kings.
If they perform on their swing through California they way they did during their losing trek through Texas, they could return to Boston in a deep hole to try and climb out of, as they already trail the Atlantic division leading New York Knicks by a full 6 games.
Not as deep a hole as the Cavaliers are in, though rookie Kyrie Irving believes he knows how things are with Cleveland. “I’m not trying to make excuses, but when we play the lower-echelon teams we don’t come out as we want to,” quipped the Cavs’ point guard, “When we’re playing against the Lakers and New York, we’re in the game. We have to come with a more focused attitude.”
Lost in Irving’s logic is the fact that just being in the game is little consolation if you don’t win the game – and lately, consolation is all the Cavaliers have.
There are bright spots, however. Anderson Verejao leads the NBA in rebounds, something that the Celtics are struggling with. And then, well, that’s a start.
Truth is, the Cavaliers lead the NBA in many categories that nobody wants. They allow more assists per game than any other team in the league and Irving has the distinction of being the only player that is averaging more turnovers than Boston’s Rajon Rondo.
Naturally, these things play right into the Celtics’ hands, so coupled with the fact that the game is played in Boston and the Celtics are desperate for a win, you would think that a victory would be a given.
But consider: since starting the season with a 2-2 that included at 7 point win over the Clippers in Los Angeles, the Cavaliers have endured losing streaks of 6,4 and 5 between wins, and are currently mired in a four game skid.
So if recent history holds true, the Cavaliers are due for a win.
Given Boston’s recent difficulties, they have to hope that Cleveland’s history doesn’t repeat itself.