So why the recent slide? Let me first start by saying that it is not the age. That has not been the problem this year. Yes, the younger athletic teams have given the Celtics fits so far, but I don't believe that is the factor that has caused the recent woes. All of the older players on this roster have gas left in the tank. Does Doc need to be more careful with minutes as the season continues? No doubt. If you want a chance at the next banner, they are going to need their legs in a seven game series with Atlanta or Orlando. But so far, that hasn't been the problem.
So what's wrong?
A few things..but they are all fixable.
First and foremost, stop with the jump-shot offense. The amount of times I've seen this team settle for a jump shot this year when other, better options were available is nauseating. I'm not against taking the J when you have this many good shooters on the team, but someone needs to drive. The bigs need to spend some time posting people up...this team needs to mix it up more.
Rondo. Rondo needs to take more control and start being the floor general this team just paid him to be and tell people to get down on the box. Rondo has the ability to take just about every player who guards him off the dribble...and when he does that...the defense has to collapse. This should lead to easy baskets for KG, KP, Rasheed and Pierce. The only problem is that these guys (minus Perk) are living on the perimeter. There are no easy baskets 20 feet out. If Rondo drives and dishes to a guy on the perimeter -- it allows the defense time to recover. There goes the Rondo advantage.
KG. Look, we know you are intense. We know you are a great defensive player. We know you are still coming back from surgery. And we know you can shoot the 18-19 footer -- but I can't remember if you can play in the paint. For the love of God, get back down there from time to time. I get spreading the floor and its advantages...but -- every now and then -- play some back-to-the-basket basketball and go strong...while were at it...limit the fade-away.
Defense. How many times this year have you seen the Celtics not close out against good shooters. This may be age related, may be coaching, or it may be hunger. But teams that move the ball against the Cs seem to have a distinct advantage because the Celtics can't seem to close out on the open man. I think the answer here is that they haven't developed the killer instinct or formed the chip on the shoulder to rally around. The Cs may be taking some teams too lightly and resting a bit on their laurels and belief that they can beat people by just being the superstars that they are. No one is going to give you the win. you have to earn it over the course of 48 minutes every game.
Energy. The Cs are desperately lacking one more energy guy. Someone who really fires up the troops and people seem to rally around. Leon Powe was that guy last year. I hope Danny can find this player through some minor trade or pick up before the trading deadline...or that someone on this team develops into him.
Coaching. Doc...coach better. Tell these guys to stop taking so many Js. Tell KG to get back in the paint from time-to-time. Tell Rondo to spend an hour after practice shooting free throws. Practice the close-out. Work this team.
The championship window for this team is 3/4 shut, and this may be the last chance for some of these guys. While superior athletes probably never want to believe it is actually going to end -- it is.
Doc, that's your job.