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Celtics still mired in mediocrity, changes are coming


"Mediocrity" defines the current Celtics team. Definitions of the term come back as "not very good" or  "halfway up the mountain". That fits. So what's the fix?

Urgency

Anyone watching the games has to notice that the "urgency" that Danny Ainge has stated is missing in the play of his troops is only turned on between periods of absolute lapses in intensity. This was evident in the 113-108 loss to the Dallas Mavericks last night. Boston was able to make it a close game late in the fourth quarter, but it was too little- too late. 

Marcus Smart is either injured or has become complacent

Marcus had his usual line in the loss, coming away with 17 points, five rebounds, seven assists and two steals. But his 5-of-12 accuracy from the field and 2-of-7 on treys did not help the Celtics cause. His fire seems to have dwindled. After being knocked to the floor at one point in the game, he was slow in regaining his feet, and - at least to me - it just seemed that he was frustrated. Is his calf injury lingering, or is he just fed up? Count me as worried.

Living and dying by the 3-pointer needs to stop

The Celtics shot a miserable 11-of-47 from beyond the arc versus the Mavericks, for a 23.4 percentage. Dallas hit more treys than Boston (19), while shooting fewer (39). The broadcasters were critical of The Green for not taking it to the hoop when Kristaps Porzingis was out of the game, and I agree with their stand. Brad Stevens even injected Luke Kornet into the game in the closing minutes for his 3-pointer prowess. Well, the big man is hitting 10-of-32 (31.3%) of his treys this season - hardly the stuff of legend.

Jayson Tatum needs to step up as on-court leader

Jayson Tatum proves repeatedly that he is the best player for the Celtics, a team without a true on-court leader. This would be a major step for the youngster, but somebody has to do it. Tatum has to do less "fiddling and diddling" (as Johnny Most used to call it). He often gets it into his head that he is going to take his man one-on-one, going into a dribbling act and seemingly forgetting that he has comrades out there. But he is absolutely a transcendent player that needs to step up as team leader.

Danny Ainge needs to build around Tatum

Celtics team < Sum of its parts

The above equation indicates that the Celtics team is less than the sum of its parts. They stand in 8th place in the East and 18th in the league. That is mediocre performance from a group from which much more was expected. If we are looking at a generous amount of talent, but a bad mix of players - changes are needed, and we may see that in the off-season. And nothing is off the table, with the exception of Jayson Tatum remaining and (hopefully) taking the next step into leadership of a crew desperately in need of it.

In closing

If you think you sense frustration in my article, you are correct. I have followed this team for more than six decades and have witnessed some low points. And this is one of them. I honestly like these guys and keep hoping they will revive. Bur right now it appears this off-season will bring change, perhaps major ones - even in ownership, management and coaching. What remains of the 2020-21 season will reveal what those changes could be.



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