After Sunday night’s loss to the Detroit Pistons, it’s safe to say that the Boston Celtics have gotten off to a rather underwhelming start (and why do the Pistons always seem to give them so much trouble?). The Celtics are sitting at 6-5, and although they have won six of their last nine games overall, it has been anything but pretty for the Celtics.
I already wrote an article on this subject earlier in the season, fresh after Boston beat the Washington Wizards two straight times to get to 2-2. Then, I mentioned how the C’s got off to a 5-9 start last year and were 15-17 as late as the All-Star break before turning it around. Celtics fans know the history. They know that the beginning of the season doesn’t really mean all that much to the team, so I am not going to spend any time on that this time around.
Instead, it’s important that we highlight specific reasons as to why you shouldn’t be fooled by Boston’s slow start this year. There are plenty of reasons to believe that the C’s are going to turn things around, so let’s just discuss a few of them.
1. New guys will learn their roles
It’s blatantly obvious that all of the new faces on the Celtics are having trouble adjusting. After all, only four Boston players currently on this squad were on the playoff roster in 2012. Other than that, this is a very different-looking team, so it’s no surprise that guys are still getting used to playing with one another.
Thus far, it seems pretty clear that this problem is very evident at the shooting guard position. Other than his 20-point outing in a win against the Toronto Raptors and a few clutch shots here and there, Jason Terry has looked a bit uncomfortable. Terry took only one shot in a win over the Utah Jazz, and for a guy who is known for letting the ball fly, that is incredibly unusual. Courtney Lee has seen his minutes fluctuate, and outside of a few moments of stellar play, he has been fairly non-existent (only twice has he scored in double-digits).
Then you have to take into consideration that Avery Bradley is still on his way back, and that will make things even dicier in terms of how Doc Rivers distributes minutes among his guards.
All of that being said, Terry is a seasoned veteran and should adapt soon enough. Lee may not have The Jet’s experience, but he is a talented player and is far better than what he has demonstrated thus far. Plus, he has at least been playing pretty good defense.
Once guys like these jell and get going, you’ll see Boston start to soar.
2. Brandon Bass will adjust
With Jared Sullinger now in tow plus Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox returning from heart surgery, Bass has gone from a key cog to essentially an afterthought.
Sullinger has gotten some starts, Green has gotten some minutes down low, and Wilcox is frequently paired with Kevin Garnett up front. That kind of leaves Bass out in the cold. That is meant almost literally, too. Bass is a player who relies heavily on his jump shot, and he has not been able to get into any kind of rhythm. As a result, he has not been shooting the ball all that well.
It may take some time, as Bass was certainly one of the C’s primary players last season, but once he becomes accustomed to learning how to play with fewer minutes, he will be fine and will likely become a crucial asset to the Celtics once again.
3. Doc Rivers is still experimenting
With all of the depth Rivers was handed by GM Danny Ainge this season, one would be remiss if they just assumed that he would know what to do right from the get-go. Doc may be an outstanding coach, but he cannot see into the future. He has no clue what lineup combinations will work best, so he is still messing around to try and see what his best options are.
A lot of people are wondering why Darko Milicic hasn’t seen the floor yet. Well, ever think it’s because Rivers is trying to get his main guys going first? Like it or not, Milicic is not going to be an integral part of the rotation this year. He may see some time against bigger teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies, but, ordinarily, you are not going to see him getting minutes. So, why should Doc waste time playing him when he still has to integrate other more important parts into the team?
This is going to be a process. Rivers understands that, and you should, too.
4. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will be fresh for the stretch run
This is probably the single biggest reason to believe that Boston will be all right. Rivers has been very cautious with Garnett and Pierce thus far, limiting their minutes and playing them in stints. This will be incredibly beneficial to the C’s come the end of the regular season and the playoffs, as they will both have fresh legs for those bigger games.
It’s also no secret that K.G. and Pierce have been coasting through regular seasons for quite a while now to conserve themselves for the postseason. Remember last year when Garnett suddenly exploded in the playoffs? Yeah; that was because he was saving himself.
No matter what happens early on in the year, Rivers is going to keep being judicious with Garnett and Pierce’s minutes, and that is a fine strategy that will only help the Celtics come April.
5. It’s November
That needs to be said again: it’s November. How often can you truly assess a team this early in the year? Almost never.
There are still five months left in the regular season. Are we really going to allow ourselves to be fooled over an 11-game sample size during the first few weeks?
Boston isn’t about short-term goals; it is about long-term goals. That isn’t to say that Boston “doesn’t care” about losing games in November, but…you know what; actually, I’ll just say it: The Boston Celtics do not care about losing games in November. They care about winning games in June.
As stated previously, this is going to be a drawn-out process. If you thought that the C’s were just going to come out of the gates and blow the doors off of anybody with this many new pieces, then you were kidding yourself.
Remember the Miami Heat during the 2010-11 season? They got off to a very slow start. It wasn’t because they weren’t incredibly talented. It was because they were still feeling each other out. The same thing is happening here.
Once the Celtics find a stabilized rotation and get more floor time with one another, they will be scary. Very scary.
So relax, and talk to me once the playoffs start.
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