The bottom line for this team is that the only way they can compete with elite teams is to play great defense, which is something they have not done with any consistency this season. The D has improved a little from an atrocious start to the season but without IT playing out of his mind in the 4th quarter, how many more losses would we have? Six? Eight? Ten?
And the problem with the defense is a lack of effort leading to a lack of execution. Even as our defensive effort has improved lately, though not so much tonight, you can see our rotations break down really quickly when other teams keep moving the ball. That's because we're not used to making that 2nd and 3rd and 4th rotation because we haven't played D hard enough to force teams away from their initial attack.
This is absolutely spot on. This team only goes as far as its defense does, and it has simply not been there all year long.
We simply got too cocky and entitled and thought we didn't need to play high-level, intense D like we used to anymore. But this is what we get for being like that all year long.
And I really question if we'll "turn it on" and "flip the switch" in the playoffs if we couldn't even do it tonight.
C's are going to struggle in the playoffs. Doesn't mean they can't win 2 rounds but they are going to be dog fights at best. Too many guys that are consistently inconsistent.
This is how I feel. IF
they get out of the first round, I doubt it will be in fewer than 6 games, and it'll only get worse from that point on.
This is a Jekyll & Hyde team—they can play great against great teams, bad against bad teams, and everything in between. Pretty maddening for fans.
I know that being this far along in only year 3 or 4 of a rebuild is a great thing overall, but at the same time it shows how poor the Eastern Conference is—a team with only 1 star and a bunch of solid role players is battling for the No. 1 seed. The Wizards and Raptors should be ashamed of themselves for not being ahead of the Celtics. Boston's record probably shouldn't be as good as it is, because this team probably isn't as good as its record. The Celtics have occasionally played out-of-their-mind good against great teams, like the Warriors, but more often have played down to inferior competition.
I had a pregame inkling that tonight's game would turn out as it did, and the first two minutes of the game were a microcosm of the night—good looks for the Celtics that they just plain missed, surrendering several offensive rebounds, and Bradley getting blocked on a point-blank shot when he had been wide open.
Will they beat ATL tomorrow? Hard to say. No result would surprise me—not a 20-point win, a 20-point loss, or anything else. Like I said, Jekyll & Hyde. Maddening. There are five games left in the regular season, then the first round of the playoffs, but we may have already seen the best Celtics basketball of the season.