I don’t know what to write about. I honestly don’t.
I’m looking at a blank screen and thinking about D.J. White dominating, and I don’t know what the hell to type. I’m thinking about the Celtics getting outscored 30-15 in the fourth quarter, and I’m thinking about when the camera panned to Doc Rivers and he looked like someone attending a funeral. I’m thinking about how Rajon Rondo didn’t have an assist in the entire first half, and about how he has seemed completely bored with basketball the past few weeks. I’m thinking about Dante Cunningham (Dante Cunningham!) hitting a game-winning jumper, and I’m thinking about Ray Allen missing a wide open three that would have won, and I’m thinking about Kevin Garnett’s futile last-second heave, and I’m thinking about how it never should have gotten to that point.
When the Celtics led by 13 points, I was already cursing their effort. That they lost, blowing that entire lead in the fourth quarter, was only appropriate. They deserved to lose. Even playing against a team that started Kwame Brown, Boris Diaw, Dominic McGuire, Gerald Henderson and D.J. Augustin, the Celtics deserved to lose. They didn’t care. They didn’t care to do the small things, like boxing out and sprinting in transition. They didn’t care to do the big things, like defending or playing offense. There’s something seriously missing in Boston right now, something that’s quickly knocking them out of contention for the East’s top seed, something that has even put them in danger of losing home-court advantage against the Miami Heat. What’s missing, exactly? I don’t know. But whatever it is, it has the Celtics playing like zombies.
I don’t want to overreact to one game, but it hasn’t just been one game. It’s a growing pattern which is manifesting itself just like it manifested itself last year, back when Kendrick Perkins admitted the Celtics were bored with the regular season. Maybe they’re bored now. Maybe they’re more hobbled by injuries than we know. Maybe they miss Perkins, or gave up trying for Lent, or have been watching too much NCAA basketball to concentrate on their own play, or really hated the movie “The Adjustment Bureau” and are trying to boycott it by showing they can lose on their own free will.
I don’t know. I have no idea what’s bothering the Celtics, and that’s what’s most troublesome. I can point to Rondo and blame him, but the problems go far beyond Rondo’s oddly disinterested play. I can point to the Kendrick Perkins trade, but that was actually supposed to improve the offense, not make everything a bloody mess. Plus, the trade shouldn’t make the Fab Four so much less productive. Maybe there’s something to the “loss of Ubuntu” theory; in other words, maybe the loss of Perkins hurt chemistry in ways John Hollinger’s formulas could never account for. But I thought—I think—the Big Three are too professional for that, too driven by winning. Aren’t they? Additionally, these losses remind of last year, when Perk was around and healthy. So maybe it’s something else. Or maybe not. As you can probably tell by my rambled thoughts in this paragraph, I’m confused.
The sky isn’t falling. The playoffs will come, and Boston’s energy will improve, and the Celtics will still (rightfully) be considered contenders for the NBA championship, and no team will want to play the Celtics in the postseason, no matter how many times they lose to sub-.500 teams during this slump. But these losses are frustrating, and they should piss us off as fans, and I can only hope they infuriate the Celtics as much as they infuriate me.
At one point, almost despite themselves, and I’ve already mentioned this but it bears repeating, the Celtics led by 13 points. The lead should have been about somewhere between 30 and 40 points at that point, but it wasn’t. They just didn’t seem to care enough to build a big lead, no matter how badly the Bobcats, a 28-42 team missing two of its best players, sucked. The game shouldn’t have come down to the final twelve minutes, and it shouldn’t have come down to the final two three-pointers.
But it did. Eleven games until the playoffs. The proverbial switch remains off.