Boston Celtics current slump is only temporary, so just relax

Dec 21, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Lucky the Boston Celtics mascot waves a flag during a media timeoutduring the fourth quarter of a game against the Indiana Pacers at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 21, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Lucky the Boston Celtics mascot waves a flag during a media timeoutduring the fourth quarter of a game against the Indiana Pacers at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /

Home cooking for the Boston Celtics, after a spicy close to a recent road trip, was supposed to make things free-flowing again for the team.

Instead, struggles have continued, with the team losing three straight. These December blues are an extension of that road trip, where the Celtics lost two of their last three games.

Still, a 4-2 swing was mostly successful. And, returning to town with seven straight games at home, the Celtics were poised to return to their easygoing, fun-loving ways. Instead, it’s been far from an elite performance for a team that was simply dominating the first eight weeks of the season.

A tough stretch but Boston Celtics poised

Concerning during three-game losing streak is the Celtics should have taken care of business with ease, especially in back-to-back losses to the Orlando Magic. Jayson Tatum missed one of these games but this team is talented — and deep — enough where they should be able to overcome Tatum’s absence against many teams.

Depth is the very reason this year’s Boston team is different. It’s been a hot topic for multiple seasons and last season was a step forward; evident in the fact this team reached, and easily could have won, the NBA Finals. It’s a roster easily 10-deep, where almost any player can step up and be on the court in tight games.

Boston does, however, still have a tendency to enter into prolonged shooting slumps. This happened in Wednesday’s five-point loss to Indiana. The Celtics played one of their worst halves of the 2022-23 season and found themselves down by 28 entering the break.

Fortitude, grit, and Tatum had Boston on the comeback trail. Easily could have thrown in the towel and prepared for the next games. Instead, it was simply another sign there’s no reason to panic on this team.

Tatum continues to be a top-five player and MVP candidate this season. He delivered a 41-point effort in the loss, his fifth game this season with 40+ points.

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In Tatum’s last three games, he’s averaging 38.6 points, bringing his season average to 30.6 and good for fifth in the NBA. Tatum is shooting 47.2 percent, which is best since his rookie season (where he averaged just over 10 shots per game, compared to the 20 he tosses up now).

Tatum is also pulling down 8.1 rebounds per game and his running mate Jaylen Brown averages 7.5. At 26.2 points per game, Brown is 14th in the NBA. Brown is in a minor shooting slump from deep the last two games (3-15 ). And though he is under 40 percent from in the field during the losing streak, Brown is at 48 percent overall.

The surprising aspect of this losing streak is the team is finally getting its full compliment of players on the court. Marcus Smart did miss the game against Indiana but Robert Williams III just completed his third game back. As he works his way back into the rotation, I’m excited to see how the Celtics close out the year.

Boston Celtics: A glance ahead

Four games remain on this current homestand, including a Christmas Day game with the Milwaukee Bucks (22-9). The Bucks have risen to the top of the Eastern Conference and this will be the two teams first matchup in 2022-23.

A few days before prior, the Celtics host the Minnesota Timberwolves as the teams meet for the first time. Big things were expected out of the T-Wolves this season but have remained in the middle-of-the-road and not quite meshing.

Post the Christmas Day game, Boston plays host to one of the worst teams in the Western Conference (Houston Rockets, 12/27). Closing out the calendar year, the Celtics take on the Los Angeles Clippers on 12/29, a team they lost to by 20 points earlier this month.

A perfect chance to get things rolling again, where a 3-1 mark to close the year would be fantastic. It be even better to take care of all four of these teams with home wins because of the first 13 games to open 2023, ten will be on the road.

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Struggles and tough stretches happen throughout the long, grueling NBA season, even to the best teams. Minimizing them is a must, as is getting them out of the way early in the season. The Celtics have taken care of the latter part of this equation, and can take care of the former as well. This team has the fortitude to overcome the bad taste of the last couple of weeks. With victories in the next few games, too, the December blues will hopefully soon be a distant memory.