January 20, 2013; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers reacts in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Doc at wits' end, Challenges Celtics to shape up or ship out

The Boston Celtics are streakers.

Naw, not in the way that you’re thinking, but in the space of three weeks, the Celtics have sandwiched a six game winning streak between losing streaks of 4 and 3 games, the latest of these streaks leaving the Green floundering at .500.

In less than a week, they have gone from upwardly mobile to downward spiraling – so goes the saga of the bi-polar Boston Celtics…and since it appears that Doc Rivers has breached the thin line of whether to hold a hand or to slap it, it’s just a matter of time before the Celtics’ front office gets involved should the team continue to underachieve.

No sense in targeting specific players at this point, however one gets the feeling that Doc’s rant after Sunday’s loss in Detroit was not as ambiguous as it appears on the surface…and his patience is wearing thin.

“I do not know if we need changes,” he said. “I am saying if we do not get it  right then we may. The six-game winning streak was great. Three of those six we  played tremendous basketball and the other three we won the game.

What could happen?  With Danny Ainge in charge from his lush accommodations at TD Garden, there’s no limit to the possibilities, and the rumors are as many as there are people spreading them, so it would be pointless to speculate at this time, yet Doc’s words suggested that the Celtics are not far off from the brink of blowing things up…

…that being said, what needs to happen to get the Celtics back on track?

Simply, play Celtics’ basketball.

Be active on defense, move well without the ball, crash the boards, play team ball.  From the bench, Doc can find more minutes for sensational rookie Jared Sullinger and athletic skywalker Jeff Green, limiting the minutes of Pierce and Garnett so that when they are on the court, their aging bodies will be capable of more explosiveness.

“We are playing awful and I am clearly not doing my job for this team – and I am  serious,” Rivers said this morning. “I am not trying to take a bullet for the team and I  told them that. I said we have to find something where all 12 guys play the same  way.”

During the 6 game winning streak, Sullinger and Green were part of a balanced rotation of 8 players, all getting at least 28 minutes and no one except Rondo ever getting more than 32 – and the bench guys were electrifying and giving the game back to the starters in better shape than they found it.

They need to have faith in each other, and it’s not happening according to Doc.

“I do not think the guys are honest with each other. I just do not think we are  committed to being a good basketball team.”

A visit to a 10-32 Cleveland team might provide a smooth patch of road for Boston before it gets much bumpier.  After tonight’s game the Celtics have to endure a stretch that, if they don’t figure out what ills them quickly, could spell a fall out of the race for a division title – and perhaps the playoffs altogether.

Boston returns home for a Thursday national-TV broadcast of their potentially drama-laced rematch with the Knicks before a quick trip to Atlanta on Friday. Boston then returns home to host the rival Heat on Sunday at TD Garden – three elite Eastern Conference teams in a four day span is going to tell us a lot about the heart of this team…

…but at the halfway mark of the season, a win against a very beatable team in Cleveland is essential as a springboard for teamwork and the resultant confidence.  Otherwise the spiral continues, and may cause some current Celtics to be ex-Celtics.

No one is saying that out loud, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to read between lines.

Tags: Atlanta Hawks Boston Celtics Cleveland Cavaliers Miami Heat New York Knicks

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