By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It was just over a week ago when the Celtics were riding a six-game win streak. They had us believing that maybe, just maybe, they’d actually make things interesting come playoff time.READ MORE: Bruins Beat Rangers 4-0 For 5th Victory In 6 Games
How silly of us. We should have known better. Those who didn’t bite on Boston’s up-fake deserve some applause. Those who did should head back to the bench.
The Celtics stink again, losing four of five since that little win streak. And as has been the practice throughout the season, we’re left wondering if their latest loss is their worst of the season.
Really, it isn’t worth arguing about which loss has been the worst anymore. Anytime we think the Celtics have hit rock bottom, they fall a little further and redefine that phrase. Sunday’s 21-point loss to the Hornets — who were without two of their best players — was bad. Then Boston came out Tuesday night and lost a home game to the Oklahoma City Thunder, losing to a team that had dropped 14 straight and is in full tank mode at this point.
It shouldn’t have mattered that the Celtics didn’t have Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker or Robert Williams on Tuesday. They should have beat the Thunder without them. But no one is afraid to play the Celtics this season, including a team that hadn’t won in nearly a month.
There was a time in previous seasons when the Celtics would see a missing player or two as a challenge — one they’d usually answer with a surprising win. And if it wasn’t a surprising win, the players on the floor would fight tooth and nail throughout the game. That just isn’t the case with this team anymore, not with a laughable depth chart and a green light to shoot any three they’d like.READ MORE: Cordero Snaps Slump, Red Sox Hold On To Beat Tigers 12-9
The Celtics came out flat Tuesday night while the Thunder came out hungry. There was very little resistance from Boston on the defensive end, and when you mix in a poor shooting night from the Celtics (who shot a horrid 11-for-49 from downtown), it was a recipe for disaster. The Celtics barely have enough talent to show up and win with its full collection of players. Without Tatum to carry the load along with Jaylen Brown (who scored a game-high 39 points on Tuesday), Boston really has no shot.
What’s most frustrating this season is that when the Celtics are given any excuse to go out and lose a game, they take it. We’re usually treated with a cornucopia of excuses following each loss, but at least on Tuesday, Brown hit the team where it hurts.
“We’ve got to come and have some pride and play with some urgency,” he said. “I didn’t think tonight we played with urgency, especially after a tough game against Charlotte two days where we got our ass kicked, everybody should’ve came ready to play with more urgency and we didn’t for whatever reason.”
It doesn’t feel like “pride” is part of the team’s makeup this season. Brown isn’t sure why that is the case, and it’s frustrating the young Celtics star.
“If we don’t show up then we’re going to get beat. We don’t have a team that can not show up and win games,” said Brown. “We have to bring it. As a full team effort, we didn’t bring it enough tonight.”
This recent skid has given them very little room for error over the final 10 games of the season. The Celtics are now tied with the Miami Heat for sixth place in the Eastern Conference, in serious danger of falling into the play-in tournament.MORE NEWS: Hurley: The NHL Has Embarrassed Itself With Rangers, Tom Wilson Situation
If they have any pride, the Celtics would come out and play like their season is on the line each and every night. But given what we’ve seen over 62 games this season, expecting that over the next three weeks would just be setting ourselves up for more disappointment.