It was another close loss, another mile during which the Celtics started by crawling for the first lap and never could pass the leaders. The Celtics fought and scrapped and finally rebounded the basketball, and there were moments Doc Rivers would like to see repeated, like when Mickael Pietrus went on a late shooting spree to help keep Boston in the game. But Thabo Sefolosha and Russell Westbrook took turns draining 3-pointers in the final minutes, and all that was left was Boston’s fifth straight defeat.
Boston’s effort wasn’t to blame on this night, and that was part of what made the loss so disappointing. There was no blaming tired legs or a lack of intensity. The Celtics simply got outplayed.
On their home court, the Celtics are now 3-4. They still haven’t beaten a team with a winning record. They miss more layups than a blindfolded birthday boy who just spent 12 rounds with the dizzy bat. They make turnovers at the worst times. They spot teams a dozen or so points almost every first quarter. They get rejected more often than the pimply high schooler who sets his sights too high. The starters aren’t the same as they used to be and the bench couldn’t score if it was running dummy drills in practice.
There were positives: Paul Pierce finally looked like himself, driving to the basket for easy looks. Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O’Neal both attacked the glass. Rajon Rondo almost had a triple double. Pietrus was phenomenal. The Celtics never rolled over. But in the end, all it resulted in was Boston’s fifth straight loss, the team’s longest losing streak since Avery Bradley was a sophomore in high school and we all thought Gerald Green had a marvelous NBA future in front of him.
Times change, and sometimes they change very quickly. A year ago this time, the Celtics were the Eastern Conference favorites. Now, we only hope they have enough ammunition to outlast the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.