The Celtics have a game above 0.500, just a win on an imaginary Mendoza line between fan frustration and “if this team finds some consistency they could be dangerous in the playoffs.” With less than a quarter of the season played, we have already seen versions of dÃ©jÃ vu. The solid play of its starters (21.1 NetRtg) is an obvious showcase of the team’s potential, but health issues and inconsistent shots have once again surfaced.
Boston’s opening schedule has been particularly brutal with 10 of its first 15 road games. Head coach Ime Udoka called it an “extended preseason” with Jaylen Brown and Al Horford missing much of training camp after both starters land in league health and safety protocols . They naturally stumbled out of the blocks until a missive from Marcus Smart, intentionally or coincidentally or indirectly, or whatever sparked an 8-4 run. This stretch was marked by an identity defensive game and the re-emergence of Jayson Tatum.
But now we are here.
First, the Celtics have to deal with one of the strangest planning quirks in years whenever the tryptophan coma wears off. After playing against the Nets the night before Thanksgiving in Boston, they travel to San Antonio for a post-Turkey Day game against the Spurs where Udoka will face his mentor, Gregg Popovich. Then they travel north of the border to Toronto on a short two-day trip on Sunday. They will benefit from a good two-day respite at home before facing the 76ers Wednesday, then travel across the country to Salt Lake City to start a five-game game out west to kick off the NBA winter. Google Maps reached nearly 7,000 miles in less than ten days.
But this is only the beginning. Included on this extended roadie on the left coast are more measure stick matches against the Portland Trailblazers (winners of 5 of their last 7), a stop in LA for a rematch with the Lakers and a date with the Clippers at the end of a back-to-back game and a prime-time game in Phoenix against a Suns team that has won 14 straight games. And while the Celtics host a return to Boston for five games at TD Garden, they will find themselves with the Bucks, Warriors and Sixers during the homestand.
While the first ten games of the regular season were used to wet the team’s feet and the next ten were learning to swim, Games 21-30 are about diving 100 feet deep with real consequences. Seasons aren’t necessarily defined by a team’s December month, but with the trade deadline fast approaching, front office plans could evolve and change over the coming weeks.
The good news is the Celtics are only two games away from second in the East. With the exception of Brooklyn, no one really broke up in the conference and even the Nets don’t seem quite right either. Cold and flu season has already won a few games in the Boston roster, but they are expected to bring Jaylen Brown and Robert Williams back to the starting roster soon with Dennis Schroder, Josh Richardson, Grant Williams and Romeo Langford shortly after. nearly like the rotation of nine men.
As Al Horford said, âThis next step is going to tell us a lot. I think you said, eight out of nine, seven out of eight on the road, and things like that. This stretch here we are going to learn a lot more about our group. But I think it’s a great opportunity, and now we’re healthy, so it’s positive. “
January is heavy at home with just a handful of games outside of Eastern Standard Time. Considering what the Celtics face next month, keeping your head just above the water would be seen as a success by 2022. We expected this team to make a real effort, but that may not be. be until after New Years until we can finally make firm resolutions.