The Celtics lost again today, 96-89. All of the old problems were on display. The Celtics gave up 11 three-pointers. They held a double-digit lead and they blew it. And they could not score in the second half to save their life. This is yet another winnable game that the Celtics’ starters gave away. The lone bright spot of the night may have been the return of Marquis Daniels, who had a pretty good game off the bench, all things considered (in general, the bench played pretty well tonight). So the question remains, why does this keep happening?
Looking at all of their losses, the main factor seems to be stamina. Some may point to the age of the Big Three, but the stamina problems I’m seeing extend to the Celtics as a whole. The Celtics just go too hard for the first half, score a lot, then run completely out of steam in the second half. And this takes its toll on the team in any number of ways. The biggest way that I’m seeing is that shooting seems to go cold during the second half. Nobody can make a shot. When a team can’t shoot, it doesn’t matter how well the defense does. It’s impossible to hold a lead if you can’t score.
This is not to say that the Celtics defense is holding up during the second half. It’s not. Too often players who were covered in the first half are getting wide open looks in the second half. The Celtics have looked bad coming off pick-and-rolls in the second half, they’re not helping out on drives to the paint, and they’re not forcing turnovers either. The defense weakens considerably in the second half, and it’s costing the Celtics games.
The last way in which lack of stamina is affecting the team is via an increase in turnovers. Against Orlando, the Celtics committed just three turnovers during the first half. During the second half, they more than doubled that. Same as any sport, turnovers will kill you. They stop drives, shift momentum, and take offenses out of rhythm. Boston’s passing gets sloppy in the second half, and it winds up costing them turnover after turnover.
The Celtics have some problems that really worry me. They don’t rebound well, as I’ve mentioned multiple times. The bench can’t score consistently. And they lack the stamina to put good teams away in the second half. The defense breaks down, the scoring flat out stops, and the turnovers increase. The problem with all of these issues is that they’re very difficult to correct during the season. You can’t make the team bigger and collect more rebounds. You can’t get the bench the experience it needs to score consistently without playing them more, which will lead to more offensive letdowns. And you can’t improve the stamina of a team that’s aging too fast for its own good. This team worries me. I had high hopes at the beginning of the season that this team would put it all together and win the whole thing. Now I fear they may be too old to pull it off. Oh, and Stan Van Gundy has the dumbest face and most grating voice I have ever seen.