Rajon Rondo‘s triple-double fell short of a much-needed win last night en route to the Boston Celtics‘ fifth straight loss, as the New York Knicks squeezed out a 89-86 win. Paul Pierce dribbled off his leg in the final seconds of the game failing at a last second shot attempt. More does not need to be said.
The Celtics find themselves halfway through the season looking up at .500 and clenching onto the 8th and final playoff seed in the East. If the Los Angeles Lakers weren’t such a train wreck out West, the Celtics would most likely be seen as owning the leagues most disappointing season thus far. The Celtics are 8.5 games behind first place in the east, while the Lakers are a dismal 15.5 games back out West. The let down may be similar, but the reasons why are vastly different.
The Celtics are in a frantic search for their identity as a team. The problems this season have been a culmination of disappointing losses to sub .500 teams and the handful of wins that have come over contenders are few and far between and only present short term promise. The Celtic’s still look like a work in progress 42 games in, and any signs of improvement or growth aside from a 6-game winning streak have been found in individual play and not as a team.
This is a team caught in a strange phase. On one hand, they have a pretty impressive young core unit in Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, and Jared Sullinger, which seems to show great promise for the future of the organization. On the other end, the veterans in the mix consisting of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry find themselves back at square one more often than not. These are the guys that are in it to ‘win now’ not rebuild.
There’s no tangible signs of any one player dragging them out of this mess, and the body language right now looks similar to their Western Conference rivals. While there’s still the belief that this team can ‘win now’ or ‘turn it around’ or ‘flip the switch…’ finding any signs of encouragement amidst a five-game losing streak is a daunting task to say the least.
This years Celtics are a true enigma, and an entirely unpredictable mess. They look like a different team every night they step onto the floor and lately they have been trending downwards more often then not. While convincing wins over contenders such as Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, and Indiana Pacers earlier in the season keep the Celtics’ season remaining semi hopeful, it’s the blow out losses and poor efforts against teams at the bottom of their own respective conferences that have been so troubling.
This team truly plays down to the level of their competition and refuses to find a rhythm in putting teams away early and often, which they are undoubtedly more than capable of doing. The Celtics’ have backed themselves against a wall, and until further notice, in the meantime that is where they will be.
The effort was there last night from the Celtics, but as usual, it just wasn’t enough.