Celtics Early Season Struggle: Should we be Worried?
Leslie Roda – Staff Writer
One of the favorites to win-it-all this year has gotten off to a rocky start. The Boston Celtics sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with a 11-10 record to start off the season. The Celtics sit behind the Toronto Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers and the Pistons.
It is no secret the Celtics have struggle immensely on offense. They are 23rd in the NBA in offensive efficiency. They sit at 26th in offensive rating at 105.5 points per game. The only teams behind the Celtics are the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls.
With three perennial All-Stars and an array of talent, the Celtics are struggling to score the basketball. Even though they seem to be struggling scoring the ball, the issue is not quality shots.
They are missing open shots and layups. Once they start to knock down those open shots and layups, look out. Once the Celtics start to make a run and start to string a couple of wins together, they will improve in the Eastern Conference standings.
Their defense has not wavered from last year. The Celtics are only behind the Oklahoma City Thunder in defensive rating. The Celtics are holding teams to 103.1 points per game.
It is far too early to start giving up on the Celtics title hopes this season. They are barely a fourth into the season. People will not see what type of team they can become until after the All-Star break. Once the team develops chemistry and has an understanding of each other’s role, the Celtics team will come together.
Celtics’ general manager, Danny Ainge, is not someone that gives up quickly on his team. In fact, he was scrutinized for drafting down in the 2017 draft to pick Jayson Tatum and in the 2016 draft for picking Jaylen Brown. At the time, many wanted Ainge to pick Markelle Fultz in the 2017 draft and Kris Dunn in the 2016 draft. Ainge’s patience with the Celtics rebuild has paid off by not jumping on trades and trading away assets.
Needless to say, Ainge is not going to trade a key player away because they are struggling. Unless one of the players demands a trade and cause chemistry issues within the locker room, I do not foresee a trade happening. If a trade were to happen, it will happen much closer to the trade deadline.
Even though the Celtics’ early struggles are cause for concern, it is much too early to hit the panic button on this team.
It is clear there needs to be a mix up in the Celtics starting lineup. When head coach Brad Stevens figures out what works best, the Celtics will be just fine.
In the Celtics road win against the New Orleans Pelicans, a starting lineup of Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris and Al Horford worked just fine.
When Irving and Smart were on the floor together, the Celtics were a +17. The key for the Celtics is Marcus Smart because he has a clear defined role and knows how to play winning basketball. He is a great defensive player who can be streaking shooting-wise.
If there is one thing any Celtics fan knows, Smart is going to give it his all every game. That is what the team needs right now.
Leslie Roda, a senior, studies English. She is a staff writer for Le Provocateur.