BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics are a frustrating 10-10 to start the season and fans are running out of patience.
Danny Ainge is urging them to hang on a little longer.
After spending the summer being bombarded with press clippings about how great the Celtics would be, how they could (and should) run away with the Eastern Conference with ease, Boston’s basketball team has been a mess of inconsistency since the season tipped off. Whenever they appear to be righting the ship, they revert back to their disappointing ways and lose what would have been an easy win last season. Beating the lowly Hawks on Friday night, only to fall to the Mavericks in Dallas the next night, is a trend that Celtics fans are all too familiar with this season.
While 10-10 is certainly disappointing, we’re just not seeing the same Celtics teams we’ve become used to seeing under Brad Stevens. The Celtics are no longer a team that their competition fears playing. Instead, the rest of the NBA is lining up to take on a team that no longer makes the most of open shots or makes their opponent work for buckets on defense. They take way too many long 2s, and they don’t play tough on defense for long stretches on a given night. This Celtics team doesn’t have a calling card or identity yet, and as they try to figure themselves out, other teams are taking advantage.
There is still a long ways to go, and it usually isn’t worth fretting until Christmas Day rolls around. But Ainge knows his team is underachieving in just about every aspect of the game, and if that doesn’t change soon, he’ll be forced to make some kind of move.
But again, Ainge is pleading for some patience among the Green Teamers.
“You know me. I’m always open to doing something,” Ainge told The Boston Herald on Sunday. “But that doesn’t mean I think we have to go and get something done right now. And it’s not that simple anyway.
“But patience wins out more often than not — more than panic. It has to,” he continued. “I know panic is a bad way to react, so I will remain patient and allow our players to find their form. With some teams, it takes time, and some teams get it quicker. But I like a lot of things I see in our team this season, and I’m not going to be impatient. Look, I’m always looking to improve our team, but every one of our players is capable of playing better than they’ve played.”
Ainge is hoping that Stevens can come up with an elixir to cure the team’s woes, as he’s done in his previous five years in Boston. Stevens’ teams usually come on strong in the second half of the season. He’s a master of taking a team of underdogs and getting every inch out of them, which is something he’s struggled to do with Boston’s talented roster this season. And as Ainge noted, and fans have no doubt screamed at the top of their lungs several times over the last six weeks, no Celtics players (at least ones not named Kyrie Irving) are really playing at or above their level. Last year’s group of overachievers aren’t even achievers at the moment, and that has to change.
The Celtics have time to figure things out and climb back to the top of the conference. Irving is still an All World talent, Gordon Hayward is still knocking off some rust, and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are still getting used to their lessened roles in the offense. But Boston has a coach who can figure out the needed adjustments, and they have the players to get it done on the floor (or rather, they should). Ainge knows all of this, and he’s going to be patient with the process.
But eventually, if the Celtics continue to lose to lottery-bound teams they should be trouncing, that patience will run out. And if that happens, it won’t take long for “Trader Danny” to take matters into his own hands.