Dec 29, 2011, 11:51 AM EDT
The Boston Celtics are going to be fine.
Well, depends on how you define “fine” — if you thought they were title contenders who would come out of the gate hot and could topple the Heat and Bulls in the East, you should be worried. But realistically Boston was a flawed team that needed to fire on all cylinders during the playoffs, not December, to knock off those teams.
Three games in, all we’ve seen is the flaws. And this is the first time in Boston’s big three era they have lost three in a row, so you can be concerned. But it is way too early to panic — they haven’t played a game with Paul Pierce yet. That’s what Doc Rivers told A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com.
“It’s so early. It’s three games into the season,” Rivers said.
The first two games were road contests against a couple of the best teams in the East — even with Pierce playing at New York and at Miami meant 0-2 was possible. Then came a trap game — second night of a back-to-back, third game in four nights, last game of a road trip — against a Hornets team that is better than everyone expected.
Still, there was not a lot of fight in Boston Wednesday night, especially in the fourth quarter when they scored 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting.
Boston needs three things to happen to turn this around. One is getting Paul Pierce back on the court, then keeping everyone healthy.
Second, their defense has to improve — after three games the Celtics are 28th in the NBA in defensive efficiency. Teams are shooting 49.6 percent against them, second worst in the league. After years of being a defensive force we’re going to assume this is just a blip, a couple bad games. But it has to change. Fast.
The third thing is Boston has to be more aggressive at the start — in all three games they fell behind in the first half and had to try and dig out of a hole. Boston’s defensive style is always better suited to being in front.
“All the teams were the aggressors initially,” said Celtics guard Keyon Dooling. “We were on our heels trying to bounce back. We can’t be that type of team. We have to be a hit-first team if we want to be successful.”
That comes back to Rajon Rondo — he has to set that tone. He is a great defensive point guard who can create turnovers and get some easy buckets going the other way. He can set up Kevin Garnett and soon Pierce early, find good looks for others. Rondo needs to take charge from the start.
We are just three games into a 66 game season. It’s too early to panic. But it is time to fix things in Boston before they get worse.
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