It’s time to face it; the Boston Celtics just aren’t that good

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) looks on alongside Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) looks on alongside Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

Just when it seemed like the Boston Celtics were showing signs of life, posting back-to-back encouraging outings against the Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers, they have come crashing back down to earth just as quickly. Three consecutive losses at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Phoenix Suns have left this team grappling for answers yet again, and we are only 27 games into the season.

Things certainly aren’t about to get any easier for Boston either, as their next two opponents will be the Milwaukee Bucks and the Golden State Warriors, two of the top teams in the league. Unless Jaylen Brown can finally shake his hamstring injury and make a triumphant return to the court, things are most likely going to continue to get worse before they get any better.

It’s just another part of the roller coaster ride that the Boston Celtics have become. Less than two years ago this team was two wins away from making it all the way to the NBA Finals, and they looked to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Now they are an unrecognizable mess of a team that shows fleeting signs of greatness that is almost always erased by long stretches of incompetency.

All of this is to say that maybe the Celtics just aren’t the team we thought they were. They have a ton of talent on their roster, but they have been showing us for the past year or so that they just aren’t capable of winning on a nightly basis. It’s time to face the facts; the Boston Celtics just aren’t that good of a team, and unless radical changes get ushered in soon, it’s going to stay that way for the time being.

The Boston Celtics just aren’t a good team

Let’s take a quick look at Boston’s most recent three game losing streak, which provides a pretty accurate representation of what this team has become over the past 12 months. They kicked things off with a 15 point loss to the Lakers, which is the most respectable of the bunch. The Lakers have struggled to open the season admittedly, but the trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook is liable to strike at any point.

They followed that up with a three point loss to the Clippers, who were playing without their top two players in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Things got even worse last night against the Suns, as Phoenix blew out the C’s by 21 points despite playing without two of their top players in Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. Yes, Boston was without Brown for all three of these games, but that’s beside the point; the last two games were extremely winnable contests for the C’s.

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In fitting form though, they managed to find ways to lose rather than to win. Against the Lakers, the Boston Celtics couldn’t defend the paint. Against the Clippers, reserve player Brandon Boston Jr. came out of nowhere to score 27 points and lead L.A. to victory. Against the Suns, the team’s lack of shooting again came to the surface, as they only managed to shoot 15.6 percent from behind the arc.

Each night, it’s something new, and just when you think this team has figured things out, a new issue pops up, and derails the team for the next couple of games. For reference, it looked like Boston had finally figured out their offensive issues against the Jazz and Trail Blazers. Fast forward a few nights, and they once again look lost on the offensive end against the Suns.

It’s mind-boggling that a team led by Brown and Jayson Tatum can’t find ways to win more games. Admittedly, Brown has missed a big chunk of the season so far, but Tatum has really stepped up his play recently. Unfortunately, this team is pretty much only Tatum and Brown at this point, and the lack of help they get on a nightly basis is really becoming an issue.

I mean, where do we start with their supporting cast? Of the rest of the starters, Rob Williams is easily the most effective, but he was getting tortured by Chris Paul in the pick and roll last night, and in a lot of ways he’s still got a lot to learn.

Marcus Smart looked to be turning the corner, but he has once again reverted back to form, and spent last night aimlessly throwing up bricks on his way to a 1-13 performance. Oh, and he also failed to record even one assist too. Al Horford has been helpful at times, but his effectiveness is largely overstated. He’s becoming a painfully lazy rebounder, and he’s shooting 29 percent from three this season. He’s been particularly tough to watch in this recent three game stretch.

On the bench, it’s pretty much the same. Dennis Schroder has been an effective scorer, but he’s becoming increasingly selfish in his shot selection, and when he passes he’s way too careless with the ball. Romeo Langford, Aaron Nesmith, and Payton Pritchard are used sparingly for whatever reasons, and when they do come on they try to force the issue in order to get more minutes. Two bright spots have been Josh Richardson and Grant Williams, but that’s not saying much.

Sometimes, some of these secondary guys will step up and help out Tatum or Brown, but more often than not that doesn’t happen. When you can only hit four threes on the night, as Boston did last night against Phoenix, you are going to lose 99.9 percent of the time. Boston just doesn’t have the scoring prowess to help Tatum and Brown. They didn’t last season either, and their marginal upgrades this past offseason are already starting to show their flaws.

Part of the issue stems from a lack of coaching expertise on the end of Ime Udoka. I took a look at Udoka’s struggles earlier this week, but he continues to show a stunning lack of basketball know-how. His rotations are horrid, and he has spent the early part of the season ostracizing three of Boston’s best young players in Langford, Nesmith, and Pritchard. Instead of giving them a shot to at least build trade value, they primarily warm the bench at this point for whatever reason.

Add all of this up and you get a team that’s stuck in neutral. Everything has to go right for Boston to even have a shot of winning games at this point, and that’s a recipe for disaster. You basically need Tatum and Brown to drop 20-30 points a game to start, with the hope being that someone else on the roster can step up and drop somewhere around 15 points behind them. Combine that with a suddenly flaky defense, and it’s safe to say that hasn’t happened often to this point.

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Unless radical changes get made, this team isn’t going to be doing anything this season. With the Ben Simmons sweepstakes heating up, I again suggest this team make a push for the disgruntled Philadelphia 76ers point guard.

Big moves like that are going to be what it takes for this team to turn things around. This team has already proven they aren’t capable of winning anything this season with their roster as currently constructed. If the Boston Celtics want to turn things around, changes need to be made, and soon, or else things could begin to fall apart even quicker than beforehand.