Out of sorts.
Under the weather.
Need I go on? The Celtics look like a disorganized, almost dispirited bunch. No two ways about it.
The C's got a big game from Rondo, who appeared to be getting back to himself and then some, but seemed to run out of gas after his third quarter heroics just when it was clear that the Celtics needed someone to throw on a cape and fly them home.
Rondo, who finished with 26 points, 8 assists, and 2 rebounds, came out with great energy and played like he truly wanted this game, but his third quarter explosion, it seemed, was about all he could muster as fatigue may be starting to creep into his still-young bones.
The rest of the C's seemed to be waiting for someone else to do it for them, and after the third quarter, only Courtney Lee (14 aggressive points on 7-11 shots) seemed to have anything going. Kevin Garnett also had his moments -- most of them coming in the first quarter, unfortunately -- but he, too, faded as the game wore on. He cranked out 10 points and 8 boards and Paul Pierce managed 16 points against his most difficult all-around NBA cover in Luol Deng (who scored 21 points of his own). Brandon Bass had another nearly-forgettable night, save for his 8 rebounds. After that?
There's just something missing from the play of this team right now and it's difficult to really put a definitive finger on it. There's a ho-hum energy emanating from some of the bench players at this point as they seem legitimately puzzled, particularly on defense. Jared Sullenger reverted to "welcome to the NBA, Rook" status tonight, Barbosa showed aggression in meaningless minutes and Jeff Green continues to make doing very little look very easy.
When you have former Celtic Nate Robinson outscoring the entire bench by himself, you have a problem. He scored 18 points in just 13 microwave minutes, shooting 5-7 from Threeland and being a general nuisance by flexing and yapping into the nearest opponent's ear. And, while this post is mostly about the Celtics and their disjointed play, I have to tip the cap to Joakim Noah for notching his second career triple-double with 11 points, 13 assists(!), and 10 rebounds to go along with 3 blocks and 1 steal. Carlos Boozer (which rhymes with "abuser") roughed up the C's with 21 points and 12 boards.
The questions that are being asked with increasing repetition and volume: Do we need another big? Maybe. I still don't think I'm entirely ready to conceed that point, because I still believe that it comes down to desire and hustle and we're just not showing it by boxing out and working for position. Do we need a backup point to truly give quality bench minutes to Rondo? It would be nice, but I think the return of Avery Bradley should help by moving Pierce to the point forward role while Rondo is on the pine with Bradley ball-hawking and running the floor. Do we need to make a trade? I think any trade, barring an impact player at the center position, will keep the C's in learning mode for a longer stretch and whatever we get may not be any better than what we have.
At this point, the game feels lacking in any consistent flow which has, in turn, caused the Celtics to play with an individual and less-than-team-first mentality.
Look, I am by nature Mr. Positivity when it comes to the Celtics, but I kind of liken the experience to being the biggest dog-lover in the world: you reeeeeeally love your dog...you buy them all kinds of great toys and treats...you might even buy them little outfits and a tiny replica couch for them to sleep on (relax...my real dog sleeps on the floor and only wears a collar!!!), but you still get kind of upset after the third or fourth time you come home to find a pile of sh** waiting for you in the bedroom.
Ultimately, I think Paul Pierce phrased it best...:
"We're still searching for an identity. We're supposed to be a defensive team, and then we're giving up 100 points a game. We need to figure out who we wanna be."
-- Paul Pierce - Captain, Legend, Truth
Box Score & Tale Of The Tape