How anxious are you on a scale of 1 to 10 and what is the Celtics’ biggest problem?
Bill C: I’m five years old. Watching everyone’s body language and listening to their post-game stressors, it seems pretty much mental at this point – missed shots lead to frustration leading to lapses and low efforts on defense. If Coach Joe Mazzola wasn’t impressed with Boston’s shot selection, I’d try to be.
Gregory Manikis: I’m three. It’s hard to sustain Elite success over the full 82 games, and there aren’t as many donuts in the schedule as there have been in previous years. I know some may disagree, but the magic is, when they’re healthy, it’s a real NBA team with some dogs. Losing streak is unforgivable, but it shows the importance of execution, boxing, etc. if you want to win the average NBA basketball game.
For me, their biggest problem is that. Things were very easy at the beginning of the season, and I didn’t have to worry about all the little things. Now the book is out on how to slow offense, so the C’s will need to recommit to playing flawless basketball because when there’s no offense, the real game begins.
William Weir: It’s 3 for me. I definitely have to tighten things up, but a lot of it comes down to poor throwing stretch. They are 29th and 30th respectively shooting 3 and from the field the last 5 games, but 4th and 6th in the NBA of the season for those categories. Lots of roleplaying gamers go through shooting fun at the same time, but water will find its level. They still get good looks, but just not so good results. Rob is back. Defense is getting better. They’ll be fine.
Mike Denon: Level 5. I’d like to believe the offensive slump is just the other side of the way above average for the first 20-25 games. That will be normal. The problem, though, is that when shots stop coming in, the Celtics tend to fall back into bad habits. Ball action disappears, the champ’s ball creeps in, and as we saw in Sunday’s game, they still struggle to pull off winning plays in the final minute of a close contest.
Joe Mazzola faces adversity for the first time as a head coach. How will he respond? What does it take to get back on track? They need to regain some confidence ahead of their Christmas showdown with Milwaukee, or the panic level will surely rise.
Ben Fallis: I’m on a second. This team knows what it can do. They have shown what they can do. It’s better to get that wake-up call now (as opposed to the playoffs), this reminder that despite their talent and depth, their victories won’t come easily.
There are also some things in flux and I’m happy to give them more games to get to grips with. Rob is a master piece still in the early stages of reintegrating, White and Hauser are seeing their first real shooting touchdowns in the NBA, and Tatum may be experiencing some fatigue after starting the season in “Finals Revenge/MVP overdrive” mode.
It has more to do with how they respond, and at this point there is little reason to doubt their ability to respond appropriately. Maybe that’s a poor analogy, but when I get in half decent shape I’m always like, “Okay, it’s over” and then start eating like crap again. The Celtics are at this point in their basketball diet right now.
Jake Eisenberg: 2 for me as well. The Tatum/Brown/Smart core has proven they can beat at the highest level for years now. But if we know anything about this core, it is that they may fall into bad habits from time to time. They probably heard the outside hype, “the best offense in league history,” “the best scoring duo since Shaq and Kobe.” It is human nature to fall into bad habits once in a while. The question will be how quickly they can pull it off. They will see in film the stark difference between what made them the best team in the league and where playing like they did against the Magic will get them. It’s a good test for Mazulla and the core to pull the team out of the tailspin, because there will be more adversity ahead. There is no better time to experience some adversity than when you are (I was) the first seed.
Trevor Haas: I’d say I’m on the second. Hiccups are inevitable, even in championship season. A wild ride of six matches against considerably good teams is inherently challenging, and the pair’s lack of magic doesn’t mean the show is off. At the same time, it’s only fair to be a little anxious in the short term. If this continues, and they drop, say, an 8 out of 10, it’s only fair that we worry about the big picture (I’ll probably go for a 4 at that point). I expect them to get out of this slump and get back to winning ways in the near future.