BOSTON (CBS) – With their 89-86 loss to the New York Knicks on Thursday night, the Boston Celtics dropped their season-high fifth straight to fall to 20-22 on the season.

Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich on Friday, and even though he said these Celtics have “no chance” at an NBA Championship, the team deserves the benefit of the doubt given their history of strong play in the second half of the season.

“They have no chance at the championship right now, but, this is a team that deserves the benefit of the doubt. When you watch them right now, you say they can’t win, they can’t make plays down the stretch,” said Thomsen. “When you watch the Knicks play, they have several guys that go for it; Carmelo, J.R. Smith, Amar’e Stoudemire — who has looked injured for so long — he was explosive last night and just went at the basket. There wasn’t a second thought, he had his instincts going.”

Toucher & Rich: Drunken Celtics Recap

“Rondo is the only guy on the Celtics that has that game right now… everybody else seems to think (about everything before they do it),” he said.

“I see a team that is still trying to figure it out,” he continued. “Even guys like Pierce, as he ages, he’s trying to figure out who he is. Can they figure it out over the next three months and make it interesting? There have been many times in previous years where you thought they were a dead team and they came back to do something. This is a different make-up obviously, but they still deserve the benefit of the doubt that they can come back and do something.”

Read: Pierce Not Named All Star Reserve

With the team struggling, what will Danny Ainge do with the February 21st trade deadline less than a month away?

“He said the other day,’ I don’t think it’s realistic that there will be changes coming.’ When he said that, I thought ‘ok, he’s going to try to make a trade,'” said Thomsen. “Even in the best of times, he’s looking at making trades or making changes. When they won the championship, they added P.J. Brown. Every year at the deadline, he’s been in the middle of something.”

Thomsen said Ainge should be calling around and offering up anyone to gauge every player’s value — including point guard Rajon Rondo.

“People say ‘how can we talk about trying to trade Rondo?’ How can he not? It’s Danny Ainge’s s job to trade people to make the team better,” he said. “This is a sub-500 team that’s under-performing  he has to find out the value of every single player.”

“So you’re going to hear rumors over the next month. I’m sure he’s talked about trading everyone but Kevin Garnett… he’s like a Mount Rushmore guy for the Celtics,” said Thomsen. “In this era, it would be the equivalent of trading Bill Russell. I’d be totally shocked if he was ever in the mix for anything. But everyone else should be, and I’m sure will be.”

“In the end I don’t think they’ll be able to make a meaningful trade,” he said. “I don’t think they’ll make a deal to help them win this year; everything they’ve done the last few years has been setting them up for this next phase.”

Also, how much do the Celtics miss Ray Allen? And what does Thomsen think of Marv Albert’s claim that the Celtics pump in fake crowd noise during games?

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