Five takeaways from C's loss to Wizards: Where’s compete level?
Five takeaways from Celtics’ loss to Wizards: Where’s the compete level?
BOSTON – If there’s one thing we know about the Celtics, it’s that they are an extremely prideful team.
You can imagine just how humbling the past two games have been for a franchise with their sights set on being one of the league’s better teams.
There’s still plenty of time left in the season for that goal to be accomplished, evident by them having the same 3-4 record now that they had a year ago after seven games in a season that ended with them finishing in a tie for the third-best record in the East.
Still, things are different now.
That slow start a year ago had a lot more to do with the teams they were beaten by (Toronto, San Antonio and Indiana twice) than anything else.
The Nuggets didn’t crush them on Sunday because the Denver is gearing up for a title run or a spot near the top of the Western Conference.
Washington didn’t run Boston into the ground Wednesday night because it has great players.
They lost both of those games by a decisive margin because they didn’t compete at a level even remotely close to their opponent.
“We’re not the hardest playing team [anymore],” Isaiah Thomas told reporters after the loss Wednesday night. “That’s what made us good, is us playing harder than other teams, being scrappier, getting all the loose balls. Rebounds don’t come to us no more because we’re not playing hard.”
Credit those teams for having a game plan and executing it.
But let’s not act as if the Celtics didn’t play a prominent role in their own demise, either.
It’s a given that they wouldn’t be as good defensively with Jae Crowder (ankle) and Al Horford (concussion) out with injuries.
But there’s no way a top-five defense could plummet to the bottom of the league due to the absence of two starters.
The issue is simply playing hard, something the Celtics have not done with any regularity this season.
And it showed in their embarrassing loss at Washington.
Here are some other takeaways from Boston’s most recent defeat:
The season has not gotten off to the best of starts for Green, who has struggled with his shot. That’s a pretty big deal because the whole point of signing him was to provide the bench with another lethal scoring threat.
In seven games, he’s averaging 4.6 points while shooting 38.7 percent from the field and 29.4 percent on 3s.
It would be wrong to expect this group to know who they are this soon. But that doesn’t excuse them from poor play which has been more common than not thus far this season. Other than Marcus Smart, players on the second unit have really struggled to stand out with any kind of consistency. That was an issue last night with the second unit, minus Smart, doing very little in terms of scoring the ball or making an impact defensively.
We have seen Brad Stevens have a different starting five to begin the second half, from the one that started the game. That’s because his first unit has been a train wreck defensively and the bench hasn’t been much better. Al Horford appears closer to returning than Jae Crowder, but truth be told it doesn’t matter which of them steps on the court. Either player’s presence will bring some hope of renewed defensive success to this roster.
Less finesse, please!
Brad Stevens has said his team plays finesse basketball right now, and it’s not a compliment folks! It is a really nice way of saying that they play soft. We saw that throughout Wednesday’s loss as the Wizards dominated the boards (54-31) and in doing so, second-chance points (33-10) as well.
Rebounding still problematic
Nowhere was Washington’s dominance over Boston more noticeable than on the boards where the Wizards delivered a sizeable 54-31 beatdown. Even when Horford and Crowder return, the Celtics will still be facing an uphill battle when it comes to rebounding the ball. Because of that, the Celtics will continue canvassing the NBA landscape for help along the frontline. That’s why Boston’s interest in Nerlens Noel or Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez or Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, won’t totally die. Regardless, it’s an issue that the Celtics need to remedy if they are going to have a season that takes them beyond simply being a team in the playoffs.