After the last few games, all evidence is pointing to a genuine slump for the Boston Celtics. As wretched as it is to go through this with the team, the good news is, as stated by both Brad Stevens and Gordon Hayward, "there's always the next game to play and get better." The bad news, if the Celtics don't figure out a way to make some necessary adjustments, the downward spiral will continue. The changes that must be made are not out of reach, and are well within reasonable expectations.
Bring the Offense
Between slow starts, and averaging less than 50% shooting, the Celtics are not going to win games or bring a championship to Boston. Kemba, Jayson, Jaylen and Gordon all need to have consistent shooting, and the team as a whole need to start out strong and play with purpose from tip off to the final buzzer. The offense has no chance of getting hot with the lack of energy we've seen lately. Every team goes through this, but a great team learns how to overcome it. With pretty much everyone healthy there are going to be some readjusting to each other. I fully expect this slump to be temporary. But in the meantime, it may be time for Brad to mix up the line-ups and pull out rotations that aren't working sooner rather than later.
Another thing that will help the offense is for the Celtics to move the ball. Too many times we are seeing them attack the paint to score, rather than to make plays, and opponents are reading that extremely well. In addition to all of this, they've got to stop turning the ball over. In the last three games Boston has turned the ball over 45 times. That's definitely not the way to win. Every opponent has capitalized on those turnovers, which in turn dug the Cs into a big hole where they became desperate. Throwing up contested threes, sloppy passes and more hero ball. None of which are the way to victory. Bottom line, the more the ball moves with attention and purpose, the more the offense heats up. We need to see more play-making translating into shots falling. More ball movement and full throttle energy, all of which will be key to waking up the offense.
Execute the Defense
The Celtics have proven that they can go toe to toe with the best teams in the league, so why have they struggled as of late? In the past three games the Celtics have not been all in on defense. Opponents have had too many uncontested shots and collapsed our defense far too easily. When Boston's defense is running on all cylinders, opponents have had less shots, less rebounds, less ball movement and ultimately less points. This is an area that Brad needs to be more proactive. If guys are slow in getting to their spot, not fighting for the rebound and missing their cues, they need to be benched. It won't be long for the guys to get back on track, especially with the return of Marcus, but it can't be left up to him alone. Jayson Tatum had the only block against Philly, and only Kanter had a positive +/-. Stats weren't any better again San Antonio either. Playing with power and purpose will get the Celtics out of this slump.
Step it Up Bench
The Celtics bench is one of the youngest and least deep in the NBA. That is still no excuse for the lack of help they provide. Brad Wannamaker is making strides in becoming a leader off the bench, but still needs to become more consistent. Grant Williams, while making great hustle plays and providing great defense most of the time, still has too many moments of not being where he should. No one on the bench brings consistent scoring when the starters are resting, other then Enes Kanter. Whether it's finding the right rotation or properly executing plays, the bench has got to give more.
Bottom line, shooting percentage needs to increase, and that comes from more play making and shooting the right shoots. The guys have to get to the FT line more and make those chances count, and turn up the volume on D. Slumps happen to everyone, Champions figure a way out. Boston has proven themselves as the underestimated underdogs of the season. They will find a way out. There are 46 more games for this group of guys to prove they are worthy of Title. We're all ready to see not just fourth quarter Kemba but 1st, 2nd and 3rd quarter Kemba, Jayson, Jaylen, Gordon and all. This is a great team, one easy to love. Let's not get too caught up in the Celtic's slump, but rather ride it out with our beloved team. And as always, #bleedgreen.
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