Celtics

Blakely: Celtics too content with losing

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Blakely: Celtics too content with losing

CLEVELAND Rajon Rondo became the latest to fall on the sword of responsibility for what's shaping up to be a season of disappointment for the Boston Celtics.

But pointing fingers, even if it's at oneself, is pointless now.

I have heard many questions via social media and emails as to whether this Celtics team wants to win bad enough.

That's not the question, folks.

The real question is when will they get to a point where they hate losing? Because right now, this crew seems more than willing to accept one setback after another, every night.

And that more than anything else has to be distressing both to Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge, the man who assembled this group.

Simply put, they are too comfortable with how things are right now, acting as if victories are suddenly going to start pouring out of the sky any minute.

There is a certain edge, a certain grind that teams that are more than just championship contender talkers but also doers, display.

For the Celtics, we saw it maybe five, maybe six times all season.

That's not going to cut it.

Ainge put this team together last summer with the intent being they could collectively make a run towards Banner 18.

Instead, all the Celtics do now as a group is consistently get run out the gym by lottery-bound teams like Detroit which beat them 103-88 Sunday night and in the process handed Boston its third straight loss.

At this point, the Celtics not "playing the right way" as Rivers puts it, represents just a fraction of what ails them.

Just as important is pride, something the Celtics have given their fans more than enough reasons to question as well. They don't bring the kind of in-your-face disposition to the game anymore, either.

While there's clear disappointment on the part of every player during a losing skid like this, there's no sense that they're angry enough to do something about it.

I totally get that they have a number of guys with poker faces where they show little to no emotion.

And while it may not be in them to get into a shouting match with a teammate, what they are putting on the floor now is as Rondo described, "embarrassing."

Both Rivers and veterans like Rondo have commented in the past about how a number of players in this locker room simply do not show emotions, regardless of whether things are going good or not.

While that's great to have on the floor, at some point you would think all the losing, often in heartbreak fashion, would motivate them to play with more consistency; galvanize them in a way that's unmistakeable.

If that can't happen, maybe Rivers is right to think that the C's may have to move some bodies in order to get players with a bit more fight in them, to be here.

There's no question that the C's bolstered their roster this summer with more talent than we've seen in a while around here. But the team's overall toughness leaves a lot to be desired as they continue to play a laissez-faire brand of basketball over and over and over again.

And while it manifests itself in games repeatedly, it starts inside that locker room.

"For me, it's too laxed; our locker room is too laxed," Rondo said. "Even though a lot of guy's personalities are laid back. But we all got to this level by competing. And right now, the talent we have, the record is embarrassing. Until guys get sick and fed up with it, I don't know if things are going to change."

Rondo goes on to make it clear that he still has faith in his teammates.

But Rondo is no dummy.

Something has to change; whether it's a trade or the demeanor of current players.

Because short of that, this team is going nowhere fast unless they start making strides toward playing better and sustaining that play for more than a few minutes or a few games.

"I don't think guys are honest with each other," said Rivers on Sunday. "I just don't think we have committed to being a good basketball team. I think this team wants everything easy; they want the easy way out. They just want to win easy. And I told them, 'the only way you're going to win easy is you're going to have to play hard. The harder you play, the easier the game becomes."

Reports: Cavs players aren't happy with roster

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Reports: Cavs players aren't happy with roster

As the Cavaliers fall further and further behind the Celtics, it appears there's some internal grumbling that the problems that have led to eight losses in their past 10 games aren't fixable with Cleveland's current roster.

Multiple reports indicate that a number of "prominent" Cavs  (and there's no more prominent player in the NBA than LeBron James) shared those thoughts with ESPN, Cleveland.com and TheAthletic.com.

After their loss to the NBA-champion Golden State Warriors Monday night in another Finals rematch, the third-place Cavs have dropped 7 1/2 games behind the Celtics and 3 1/2 behind the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference.

The complaints are a clear message to management that a change will be necessary at the trade deadline and, according to Cleveland.com, the offseason acquisition of Isaiah Thomas isn't going over too well. Thomas, who was out until Jan. 2 while he recovered from hip surgery after he was acquired from the Celtics in the Kyrie Irving trade, is shooting 36 percent and is averaging almost as many turnovers (2.4) as assists (3.4). But it's his defense that's hurting the Cavs more. Here's what Cleveland.com's Joe Vardon reported a "league source" told him:

“Rotations are awful. IT is so much worse than Kyrie defensively it’s insane. There is not a great feeling anywhere. They need to limp into the All-Star break and get away from each other.”

Meanwhile, the guy Thomas was traded for has led the Celtics to an East-leading 34-10 record and become a leading MVP candidate.

The Case Against Anthony Davis to the Celtics

The Case Against Anthony Davis to the Celtics

Let’s get this out of the way: the Celtics should absolutely try as hard as possible to land Anthony Davis. Danny Ainge’s track record means any deal that ultimately lands “The Brow” would, at worst, be fair, and at best, be a steal.

That said, there are arguments to be made against an Anthony Davis trade. Here they are:

1. GARY TANGUAY CAN'T BE RIGHT
This is more important than anything else. Gary Tanguay cannot have this win. We can’t validate his reckless speculation with a Davis-to-Celtics deal. Banner 18 is not worth the years of Gary telling us he was right about this. All joking aside, let’s give Tanguay some credit for predicting this, even if it was luck.

2. ACQUISITION COST
Freedom isn’t free and neither is a 24-year-old mega-star. It’s important to realize that the Celtics are not the only team making this trade. The Pelicans will, justifiably, need one of the biggest return packages in NBA history in order to move Anthony Davis. For starters, say goodbye to Jayson Tatum. The C’s wunderkind looks like a future star and there’s just no way New Orleans makes this deal without him. Ditto for the Lakers/Kings pick acquired from the 76ers this summer and at least one more future first-rounder. Did we mention Al Horford yet? His salary is almost a must in any deal for Davis. 

MORE CELTICS:

I’m not positive a package of Tatum, Horford and every future pick of value is enough to convince the Pelicans to trade Davis. If I’m New Orleans, I’m asking for Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Horford and the LAL/SAC pick for Davis and the ridiculously expensive corpse of Omer Asik. So yeah, the Celtics have positioned themselves to pull off a deal of this magnitude, but it’s sure gonna cost them.

3. FINANCIAL COST
Including Horford in a deal for Davis lessens the blow of adding another max player; however, the Celtics will also be trading at least one of their rookie-scale starters, and that cannot be overlooked. Tatum and Brown aren’t just potential All-Stars, they are cost-controlled starters who the Celtics are paying a combined $10.6 million this season. The other seven Eastern Conference playoff teams (as of Tuesday) are paying an average of $36M for their starting SG/SF combos. Losing one or both of Tatum and Brown means the C’s will be pinching pennies to try and fill out their starting lineup. The calculus gets much harder when Kyrie Irving opts-out of his deal after next season.

4. INJURY CONCERNS
Davis is an absolute stud when he’s on the floor. The problem is he’s often sidelined with injuries. Davis has never played more than 75 games in a season, averaging 67 games through his first five years in the NBA (he’s already missed seven games this year). Davis’ alien-like size/athleticism combo make him a devastating two-way force, but might also make him injury prone for his entire career. Similar to Joel Embiid of the 76ers, Davis sometimes seems too big and fast for his own good, crashing to the floor at a rate rivaled only by Kelly Olynyk.

5. DOES HE MOVE THE NEEDLE ENOUGH?
Is Davis good enough to overcome reasons 1-4 on this list? Going by individual stats, absolutely. Davis has the third-highest career Player Efficiency Rating (PER) in NBA history, trailing only Michael Jordan and LeBron James. But that individual success has only led to a 165-206 record and one playoff appearance for the Pelicans franchise. Before this season, the Davis-led Pelicans boasted a top-10 offense once in five seasons. It’s the same on the defensive end, with one top-10 finish in Davis’ first five years. If Davis is such a game changer, how come he hasn’t been able to impact winning at a greater clip? Most of that can probably be blamed on Pelicans management for doing a terrible job building around him, but it should be a question the Celtics ask before trading just about everything to acquire him.

The Celtics would be crazy turning down the chance to add Davis to a core of Irving, Gordon Hayward and Brad Stevens, even if it does mean Tanguay can brag for the rest of his life. Ainge has assembled a super team before and you better believe he’s on the phone right now trying to do it again.

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