Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thoughts on the recent Celtics struggles.

(This has been one of my favorite songs for awhile... & Mr. West really captures how I've been feeling)

So I've been trying to figure out what's wrong with the Celtics. Watching my team, my most beloved men in Green, has suddenly started feeling like a chore after being a joy for much of the season.

Everyone's been pointing their finger at Rondo and wondering what's wrong with him, so let's start there. I found this depressing article written by Jeremy Lundblad at ESPN Boston chronicling Rondo's recent struggles, and let me summarize the gloomy facts here: In the last three games he has played 85 minutes... and scored 4 points. Coming in to March, Rondo was shooting 60 percent from the field from five feet or less. This month, that percentage has plummeted to 46 percent. When you figure in the shots he's taken from 5 feet or more from the basket, he is shooting at a rate of 36 percent from the field. Eeeek! Rondo isn't known for his scoring, so it would be okay if this was where his troubles stopped. But it's not. He has gone 6 straight games without reaching double figures in assists. Rondo started the season red hot, averaging 16.7 assists per game in October. That number has steadily fallen as the season as progressed, and he is now averaging 7.0 assists per game. Here's the most depressing statistic of all: The Celtics are 31-5 when Rondo has 10 or more assists, and 10-9 when he doesn't. So it is undeniable: something is going on with #9 and it is hampering his game.

Make no mistake about it: I don't blame Rondo for the Celtics recent struggles. Maybe he's injured, maybe it's something mental. Who knows? He is famously elusive. I just hope it changes for the better sometime soon. But you know what I really think the problem is? I don't think it's tired legs or fatigue, or any similarly themed theories that are often tossed out there.

I think that the chemistry has been completely thrown off with the recent overhaul of the roster. Are they a more talented and deeper team? Probably. But trading Perk without all of the other moves would have been enough to completely throw the flow off. Add on to that getting rid of the whole bench except for Glen Davis, Von Wafer and Delonte West, and it's enough to cause serious identity confusion. This is a team that preaches team and unity above all else. They don't talk about individual accomplishment: they talk about playing as a team to accomplish one goal, which is winning a championship. And now most of the pieces are gone. Obviously the "most important" pieces are still intact, but still, it's a completely different team. It's great to see Krystic playing out of his mind, and it's awesome that Jeff Green comes in off the bench and gives them an offensive punch they haven't had in recent history... But still- the only thing that makes Krystic and Green Celtics are the jerseys they wear. They haven't been on the same journey that Paul Pierce and the rest of the starting 5 (and Glen Davis) has been on. They weren't there to create the Celtic team identity. I'm just a fan and it's hard for me to adjust, and it's hard to feel a real connection there.

Even when they are clicking and playing well, it doesn't seem like they're having fun the way they were at the beginning of the season. Take the game against Indiana, when the bench came in and rocked. That was great. I was so happy to see a 2nd unit forming that looked like it could potentially be reliable for the Celtics. But there was no visible joy... And I know that sounds corny, but it's a simple example of something that's different. There's nobody visibly excited when the Celtics are on a roll. It used to be Nate Robinson FREAKING OUT for 48 minutes, screaming, waving his towel around, and jumping out of his skin every time something good happened. It was Marquis Daniels "letting the three's fly" and flying down the court with Nate every time someone made a trey. It was Luke Harangody, studious on the bench, the picture of intensity, completely zoned in on the game, standing up to cheer and high five his teammates. It's all gone now, and it's sad. Chemistry is a finicky thing. It can't be manufactured, and it takes time to create. Just because this team is "better" and deeper, it doesn't mean that the chemistry will be there. Maybe when Shaq comes back he'll lighten the mood up. Here's hoping... Because any sense of urgency that this team had seems to have fled the building along with the chemistry and camaraderie.

1 comment:

  1. Sigh ...I think you might be on to something