They get a cupcake. The Washington Wizards.
After a winless three-game stretch against the NBA’s elite, the Celtics could badly use an easy win against a poor Wizards team. That is, if the season is still salvageable.
Paul Pierce called the L.A. game yesterday a must-win. If you believe Pierce, their loss means the season’s already over. Boston lost the must-win, and with it there goes the season. Goodbye, championship aspirations. Sayonara, Celtics.
Many scribes are acting like that’s the case. Trade Ray Allen. Closed window of opportunity. Too old. Too fickle. Too washed-up.
Does nobody else wonder why a one-point loss to the defending champions is enough to write Boston off? Why two close road losses to Orlando and Atlanta mean the Celtics can no longer compete with the best?
Am I the only person who still holds out hope?
I’ll give this to you doubt mongers; the Celtics have legitimate problems. They can’t seem to put together 48 minutes. The bench has given up leads. K.G. isn’t nearly 100 percent. Ray Allen is shooting too poorly, and Rasheed Wallace is shooting too often. Big stops are far too infrequent. So are rebounds.
But Boston fans can take solace in the fact that the Celtics have yet to play their best basketball. Losing by one point to L.A. is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, losing by one point to L.A. while struggling through a dark period of poor play might even be something on which to build hope.
The Celtics can — and will — play better basketball. The mistakes in their play are mostly effort-related. Poor rotations, missed box-outs, a stagnant offense and sometimes entire lack of energy. With the exception of Garnett’s injury — and, possibly, Wallace’s tendency to fire away from outside — the mistakes are all correctable.
The Celtics don’t need to get younger; they need better execution. They don’t need fresh legs; they need focused minds.
Ray Allen isn’t missing shots because he’s old, just as Paul Pierce isn’t making them because he’s a rookie. Aging hasn’t helped matters, but — once again, with the exception of Garnett and Wallace — it hasn’t hurt as badly as people say.
Boston will find a way to right the ship. Writers will stop digging the C’s grave and start exploring the possibility of another trip to the Finals.
There’s still nothing to be panicked about.
But if the Celts lose to the Wizards…
Three things to look for in tonight’s game:
- Can the Celtics bounce back? – A game with the Wizards should be just what the Celtics need to get back on track. But will the demoralizing weekend of losses affect tonight’s performance? Either the Celtics could be out for blood tonight, or they’ll be preoccupied with licking their own wounds.
- Bench advantage? – It seems like the bench is a key every game. But this time it’s because Boston should have the advantage. Washington’s bench has been decimated by poor play, injuries and gun-related suspensions that have thrust most of its bench into starting roles.
- Antawn Jamison- Jamison is a strange player, with a weird game. Especially around the bucket, Jamison is very unconventional. With K.G. hobbling around, Jamison could have his way with the suddenly soft Celtic frontcourt.