New Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has done remarkably well with his first gig in the NBA. Much like he did at Butler, Stevens has taken a group of guys that aren’t necessarily the most talented players in the league and had them playing solid basketball. However, when you were watching them early in the season, you had the feeling that this team was bound to regress.
Now it seems like that regression is finally starting to happen. The Celtics are no longer atop the Atlantic Division and, coming into a matchup with the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night, had lost four consecutive games. The Nuggets then extended that losing streak to five games in a 129-98 blowout of the Celtics.
Boston’s defense was atrocious on Tuesday night as they allowed the Nuggets to shoot 51.8 percent from the floor and 45.2 percent from three. Sure, they forced Denver into 21 turnovers, but that’s more a testament to Denver controlling the pace than anything. Moreover, Boston was stagnant offensively as they managed to shoot only 38.5 percent from the field and just 4-18 from three against Denver.
The Celtics first three losses in this losing streak were to Eastern Conference opponents, but they have now set out on a West Coast road trip against some of the best teams in the Western Conference. Their first two games of this road trip have now been losses by 23 and now by 31.
Though the level of competition is certainly better than who they’d play in the East, this road trip is showing us the Celtics team we all thought we’d see coming into the year. This is a team playing without any real alpha-dog with Rajon Rondo out and a supporting cast that his hardly striking. With the last three games of their road trip coming against the third, fourth and fifth placed teams in the West, you have to assume that their struggles will continue. What will be interesting is to see if they try and rebound once the road trip ends or if they settle into tank-mode.