During the 2021-23 NBA season, Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown said the “energy is about to shift” as the team struggled around the .500 mark. That phrase ended up being the tagline for team turning it around and getting all the way to Game 6 of the 2021-22 NBA Finals.
After powering their way to the top of the Eastern Conference a season later and looking like obvious NBA Finals favorites, the Celtics have sputtered following the All-Star break which could be attributed to a few factors.
First, there have been injuries. Brown missed games due to a broken face, Marcus Smart has dealt with a high ankle sprain, Robert Williams has been in and out of the lineup, Jayson Tatum is obviously dealing with that wrist issue and Malcolm Brogdon has missed a few games.
The second issue with the Celtics has been attrition. With Al Horford already only playing either of back-to-back games, there is some concern over the number of minutes the other stars are playing as the season comes down the stretch, particularly Tatum. That’s why when the team has double-digit leads, it’s important to get their starters some rest.
Boston Celtics are facing adversity at the wrong time
That is why the recent stretch of losses are frustrating and reasons for concern for the team. As the deepest team in the league, the Celtics have proven they can get it down when any of the players mentioned above are out of the lineup. They have also proven they can get out to big leads against teams when they are locked in on both sides of the court. So, what’s up with our boys from Boston.
The issue is not talent. While some may point at Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla and some of his approaches as a scapegoat, the issue with the Boston Celtics is mental focus. It is the lack of that focus that currently has them No. 2 in the East and if the energy doesn’t shift, if the tide doesn’t turn, they could lose the No. 2 seed as well.
Want your voice heard? Join the Chowder And Champions team!
With a 6-game road trip on the horizon, Wednesday night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers is a must-win situation for the squad, right Malcolm Brogdon?
"“I think it’s less even about the playoffs and just about this road trip coming up,” Brogdon said, via MassLive.com. “I was talking to Blake (Griffin), we really need to win this game against Portland so we can leave Boston on a good note, a positive note starting the road trip. These are six teams on the road that we should beat, that we need to beat. It’s really that simple. Going undefeated is the goal and the expectation.”"
Sometimes it is a long road trip that could unify a team that has seemingly had it together all season long. As adversity usually binds this team, veterans like Horford, Brogdon and Griffin are the types of leaders who will help the team get through this skid on and off the court.
As far as Tatum, Brown and Smart. Those players have been though the ups and downs over the past few seasons. They also know the formula of putting it all together, especially when the talent and health is there. As the team may be looking past the rest of the regular season to get back to the Finals, these last 16 games are important with how they enter the playoffs. That is something the Celtics know they can control.
"“You just continue to control what you can control, and that’s really it,” Smart said. “We put in the work and basketball’s a game of runs. It’s a lot of ups, it’s a lot of downs. The tide’s going to turn, we just gotta really hold off until it turns and just keep playing and doing what you’re supposed to do.”"
While that is true, the Boston Celtics need to figure out a way to close out games and prevent those lows from happening at the end of games. It really does come down to energy and focus. When the C’s have both going, they are an unbeatable force even without a full, healthy squad.