Boston Celtics is running out of time to solve a number of issues affecting their list, writes Sky Sports analyst Sky Sports NBA Mark Deeks.
Live NBA: Boston @ Charlotte
Boston Celtics come to tonight's match against Charlotte Hornets for a two-round defeat.
It is true that these two matches were against high-quality opposition. The first game was a 115-104 loss for Denver Nuggets, a legitimate candidate for a title with an envious depth; The last time was the huge 37-point 22-rebound effort by Joel Embie, the reason for the close loss at three points on the road to the 76th Philadelphia. These were not bad losses.
Nevertheless, they were losses. And they talk about legitimate concerns about how deep this Celtics team can be in the postseason.
Expectations were exalted when they came into the season, and quite rightly. Last year, Celtics won 55 matches in the regular season and finished the Eastern Conference finals for the second time in a row, losing Cleveland Cavaliers in seven matches only for the seventh shootout (7-39 from three points). this was almost as deep as the one that cost Houston Rockets the city of the NBA Finals against Golden State Warriors in the West.
They did this even though they did not have Gordon Hayward for All-Star more than the first five minutes of the season. With such a high caliber reinforcement that joined the team and the return of all the key players he got to that level after the re-signing of Aron Baynes and Marcus Smart, it was logical that this year's Celtics would be better than the last.
They are not.
With 43-29 records, Celtics currently have more losses already this season than the last one. And things do not go in the right direction.
At the time of writing, the Celtics lost seven of the last 13 matches, with each one, apart from one, losing against the opposition of the game, and all but one victory came against the lottery teams. Exceptions to these rules are compensated for each other – the 33-point victory over the Golden State Warriors defeated with a loss of 10 points on the Lotus-bound Chicago Bulls.
Of course, getting into the finals in a rich form is not a guarantee for success within them, as the 76ers showed the previous season. Closing the regular season in the winning 16-game series did not prevent them from eliminating more games in their eventual loss 4-1 in the second round, which was the same to Celtics with poor performance in late matches.
What needs to be seen is an improvement over the entire season. And that was not the case yet.
The loss for the 76ers was Philadelphia's only victory against Celtics this year when Boston won the 3-1 series. So, for an optimist, there is a reason to feel confident about this probable second round, especially given that it was for the elite individual performances and the unusual disparity of free throws 76ers to pull out a narrow victory at home.
Al Horford is usually a difficult venture for Embiid, and with regard to its own considerable traffic and the urgent need to continue to work on all its moving parts, the 76ers themselves do not cook on gas.
However, there are sufficient reasons for concern about the cohesion of the Celtics list.
Hayward simply is not even close to the player he once had. His basic seasonal averages are 10.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game, but not so bad, but "not too bad" here is not enough.
Hayward's cableway went, his dynamism disappeared, his shot went, and although his performance has increased in the past few months, his overall effect is barely enough. Shadow of his former ego now, Hayward is a decent seventh man, does not return All-Star.
The young wing duo Jayson Tatum and Jaylena Browne also did not make the jumps that would be required of them. Brown's improvement in the jump in the second half of last year showed that he came into this campaign because he was too aggressive at an early hour in a way that is characteristic of the whole team around him and too often ignores the full play of a freight train that he did so effective last year.
He also tries to understand who in fact is that year, Tatum, which has fallen this year with excellent scoring efficiency when he tried to prove that the skull could be based on isolation. Instead, he proved that this player is not yet.
Marcus Smart has improved considerably this season, but his tendency to get involved in any faction (as well as many of them) can be seen to be caught all the time.
For all Al Horford's skills and brains, he began to slow down in his 12th NBA season, and demanded a delicate control of his work throughout the season, depending on the tortuous knee. His support, Aron Baynes, is even more prone to injuries.
Daniel Theis was quite successful in the big role of the reserve, but as there are so many players who have decided to prove themselves as a shooter on the periphery, Celtics as a team hardly come to the line with the second worst target. frequency in the league.
And as Embiid and the 76ers have shown themselves, this can become a bad game that changes the game.
According to Celtics, they also do not have the best time for each other. Kyrie Irving, a free agency, hangs over the team, as well as the knowledge that the brain team had half a team for Anthony Davis from New Orleans pelicans last month when a little-known contract on collective bargaining was adopted. It is certainly difficult to feel that you are too connected with a team that wants to openly open up.
Kyrie frankly swears on the theme of his future and the increasingly dominant thinking of the group that this summer is in New York Knicks, adds a sense of anticipation what Celtics will do this season, and to some it seems that although Irving is playing for his next contract.
Marcus Morris, whose offensive aggression, despite the lack of physical power, is not new to him, but is often ineffective.
Terry Rozier is, of course, definitely, after all, strengthened by his success as a start-up on-site, and it's so difficult now when he comes out of the bench.
Games on Saturday night
- Boston Celtics @ Charlotte Hornets, 22:00, Live via free live stream at skysports.com, Sky Sports and Youtube mobile app
- Miami Heat @ Washington Wizards, 23:00
- Philadelphia 76ers @ Atlanta Hawks, 23:30
- Utah Jazz @ Chicago Bulls, 12.00
- Minnesota Timberwolves @ Memphis Grizzlies, 12.00
- Dallas Mavericks @ Golden State Warriors, at 12:30
- Detroit Pistons @ Portland Trail Blazers, 2nd hour
- Phoenix Suns @ Sacramento Kings, 2nd hour
"Disease more" usually only starts when the team actually won; Celtics currently appearing have already lost their appetite.
At various points of contention, it is worth remembering that this Celtics team is still extremely gifted. In front of eight Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Morris, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier are at the forefront.
But basketball was specially designed as a team game, built on principles designed to increase teamwork over individual excellence.
Celtics have three short weeks to learn this.
Want to watch the NBA, but it does not have Sky Sky? Get the Sky Sports Action and Arena package here, click here.