If there was ever a team that didn't need to enter a slump after the all-star break, it's the Boston Celtics. After a disappointing start to the season (relative to their talent), it seemed as if Boston needed nothing more than to go into the break to rejuvenate themselves and come out of the gates strong. Unfortunately, this hasn't been the case. Boston has come out of the break on a three-game losing streak including a 10 point loss to the Chicago Bulls where they gave up 126 points and a 23 point loss to their division rival Toronto Raptors. And now the Kyrie Irving to the Knicks stove is hotter than ever. But is it time to smash the panic button or is there still time to figure it out?
In my eyes, the panic button hasn't been pushed but it's getting a look I give to a stack of chocolate chip cookies. Eager and ready to pounce. I can't remember a time where an NBA team literally has the most envious position in the entire league and they still can't find a way to put it together. They have one of the best players in the league in Kyrie Irving. They have an abundance of young talent like Jayson Tatum, Jalen Brown and Terry Rozier. They have gritty role players like Al Horford, Marcus Morris, and Marcus Smart. Oh, and they arguably have the best coach in the entire league in Brad Stevens. To be fair the team's record is pretty good considering the type of torment they take from the media. But when Warrior level dominance is expected, 5th place in the eastern conference is a bit disappointing.
But wait, LeBron James takes the regular season off every single year and still finds his way into the finals. Boston has way more talent than those teams so shouldn't they just figure it out by the playoffs?
Well, first of all, LeBron is finally in a conference with some sort of competition and look how well that's turning out. This is the first time the east has had multiple legitimate teams since like, 2010. This means that every little edge you can get on the other teams is going to matter. More specifically don't bank on getting to the finals without having home court advantage at some point in the playoffs. Boston literally can not afford to just coast into the postseason. Especially if the standings don't move, they'll need to play Philly in the first round and need to possibly steal a couple of road games. Sure Boston has the Sixers in their back pocket but now isn't the time to get complacent.
Although the Celtics can't afford to not show up with their best step forward every night, their schedule may say otherwise. Despite having games against the Warrior, Rockets, and Nuggets, the eastern conference teams they play are actually quite favorable. They only need to play Philidelphia one more time and they get two cracks at the now starless Indiana Pacers which could prove to be very pivotal games in the standings.