The Boston Celtics also raised expectations by adding some key pieces in the offseason, then promptly stumbled out of the gate. But there were no death stares, insurrections, coach beheadings or panic moves.
But there are some problems in Beantown. Let’s allow team leader Kevin Garnett to explain.
“You can’t speed chemistry up,” Garnett said. “I think the more practice, the more you get familiar with each other. There’s no hit the fast forward button here. You’ve got Comcast; some shows you can’t fast forward through. You’ve just got to let it go through and watch the silly ass commercials and be pissed, right? This is what this is.
“Did I just take a shot at Comcast? Bleep it, I did it. So what? I’m a DirecTV guy anyway. This is what this is. I’m not helping myself, am I? Bleep it. Bleep it. Bleep it. Who cares? Anyway, that’s what this is. We totally messed that up, right? Goddamned, we just totally messed that up. But this is one of those things where it just takes its course and you can’t speed anything up.”
Everybody got that?
Even with Saturday’s win in Milwaukee – the typical just-stick-around-and-execute-at-the-end job this corps has patented – the Celtics (3-3) have yet to put together anything resembling a good game. Their first two wins came against the wofeul Wizards despite giving away double-digit leads in both. They have lost at home to Milwaukee and Philadelphia, with opposing point guards Brandon Jennings and Jrue Holiday running wild.
The problems are on both ends of the floor. On offense, the Celtics are trying to integrate new additions Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, Leandro Barbosa and rookie Jared Sullinger while getting used to life without Ray Allen. On defense, Boston is simply getting beat down the floor and not getting a chance to set its usually stout half-court defense.
“If we can do a better job of getting back on defense, limit the easy opportunities, we give ourselves a better chance,” veteran Paul Pierce said. “Guys on the perimeter have to get back.”
Coach Doc Rivers shook up his starting lineup Saturday night, pulling Lee and Sullinger for Terry and Brandon Bass. Although the end result was a win, Lee and Sullinger were less productive off the bench than they were as starters.
Rivers has noted that the Celtics have eight new players and finding the right combinations and units requires some tinkering. It is definitely better to take chemistry in the fall semester rather than the spring, and the Celtics have shown in the “Big Three” era that they don’t need the security blanket of homecourt advantage to make a deep postseason run, as they did as a four seed in 2010 and a five seed last season.
And while everyone gets used to each other, there is one other issue on the offensive end – the Celtics seem to miss Allen.
Not empirically, mind you. In fact, the basic stats show the Celtics are shooting slightly better from the arc without Allen thus far. But it just doesn’t look the same.