The 2009 New England Patriots, the 2011 Boston Red Sox, the 2015-16 Boston Bruins and now the 2018-19 Boston Celtics add their names to the list of the most detestable teams of Boston Championship era. Teams with an incredible amount of talent, that can’t get out of their own way and seem to have no interest in getting out of their own way. The Celtics have hit a new low point in their vastly underwhelming season, they have come out of the All-Star break 1-5 in their first six post-break games. The lone win being an uninspiring 11 point win over the lowly Washington Wizards in a game where if they had faced a competent opponent, they probably would have lost too.
The hot topic question around Boston in the papers, and on sports talk radio is who do you blame for the Celtics mess? Well, I have the simple answer for you, you blame everybody. In terms of the players who play significant minutes for this team the only person who I feel is largely blameless is Al Horford since he hasn’t changed and is still who he’s always been a good, but not great player and a soft-spoken lead by example veteran. Everyone else? Including the Coach and GM share part of the blame pie and I’ll divide it up right here for you.
Danny Ainge: 5%: Now he has constructed a very talented roster, however where I hold the GM accountable is in the fact that it’s been very apparent that this team is better off when there are fewer mouths to feed all season long. He very easily could have made a small move by subtracting a rotational player at the deadline to make life easier. Furthermore, all of the Celtics immediate competition in the Eastern Conference made their team better at the trade deadline. The Toronto Raptors added Marc Gasol and Jeremy Lin, the Milwaukee Bucks Nikola Mirotic, Stanley Johnson and Pau Gasol and the Philadelphia 76ers Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. The Celtics made one lowly move sending Jabari Bird to the Atlanta Hawks for a heavily protected 2nd round pick to open up a roster spot that they didn’t do anything with.
Brad Stevens: 10%: I know an NBA Coach only has so much power, and while we all know, Stevens is as good as it gets with the X’s and O’s what truly makes an NBA Coach is ego management and he has failed big time at that this year. After every Celtics loss the post-game pressers you can hear “Like sands through the hourglass so are the Days of Our Lives” before they come on TV. In game, I can think of at least three occasions this year where he has not drawn up the final play for Kyrie Irving at Orlando, vs Golden State and at Milwaukee, I thought the point of having a player like Irving is so he can close games? Also, it feels like he has poor game awareness he never rides hot hands he just sticks to his rotation and doesn’t budge.
Kyrie Irving: 15%: For a guy who hated being around LeBron James, he sure acts just like him. Throwing teammates under the bus, never taking the blame, overruling the coach and never being able to complete a sentence without saying me or I. Then earlier in the year, he calls for the Celtics to bring in a 14 or 15-year veteran instead of facing the leadership role head-on which is also not helped by the fact Irving didn’t attend Game 7 of last seasons ECF because he was off getting a nose job for Uncle Drew’s movie tour. There is no disputing how brilliant Irving is on the court if he were 6 inches taller he’d be the best player in the world. It is very clear there is a divide between him and his young teammates that feels like it’s beyond repair.
Gordon Hayward: 20%: The biggest on-court problem with this team is the fact that Hayward is a total shell of his former self. There have been flashes of Utah All-Star, Gordon Hayward with two 30 point games vs Minnesota and two great back to back games before the ASG at Philly and vs Detroit. However, over the break he got hurt again playing one on one with Semi Ojeleye, since the return from the break, he’s made just 8 shots.
Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier: 50%: The absolute biggest problem with this is this group of immature, over their head, young players who think they are better than they actually are and think they have achieved something. Tatum spent his off-season working out with Kobe Bryant, and it shows. Almost every time he gets the ball its isolation, he puts in very little effort on defense and has no interest in rebounding unless it’s completely uncontested. When it comes to Brown, it was apparent early on that he was getting ahead of himself, on Bill Simmons podcast in the summer he guaranteed that the Celtics were going to the Finals. In an early-season interview, he said he’d have five rings by the time he was 28 (that’s five years away) getting into shoving matches with Marcus Morris etc…in his draft previews some writers noted that Brown can come across as arrogant due to his high book smarts. It’s clear his teammates have singled him out between Morris shoving him and then Marcus Smart airing him out when he didn’t pass to him open in the corner in Toronto last week instead committing a charge. Rozier, after the Celtics were eliminated last summer appeared on ESPN First Take show during the NBA Finals in Cleveland and made it clear that he was more than OK with taking the backseat to Kyrie Irving once again. Well as time has gone on it has become clear that he was lying, as the difference in his play from when he starts vs when he comes off the bench is stark and glaring. With his impending free agency, his shoe deal and nickname he landed last year, it’s clearly all gone to Rozier’s head.
Add all this up and you get this a team of a million excuses and zero accountability. A team that was supposed to walk to the Finals and maybe take the Warriors to 6 or 7 games turns into a 5 seed.