The Boston Celtics have lost five of their last nine games. Injuries seem to be lingering and their playstyle has been increasingly inconsistent. They have been relying on a couple of their top players to rack up the majority of baskets, yet, there have been games where that hasn’t been enough to give them a win. Until Tuesday night’s game against the Nuggets, the Celtics were .500 for the first time in six years at this point in the season. Many are asking if these factors are too much to cause the Celtics to start spiraling in the wrong direction.
After a two-game losing skid for the fifth time this season, Boston managed to knock off the 15-12, Denver Nuggets. This was a strong win by the Celtics as they had to overcome a lot.
Not only did they have to overcome a 43-point game by MVP candidate Nikola Jovic, but they had to do so with a lot of help from their bench.
The Celtics bench players combined for 30 points in a game where it was needed. A notable name was rookie wing Aaron Nesmith. The Vanderbilt product scored nine points, four rebounds and had an electrifying fourth quarter play to force a turnover.
This is an opportunity that’s been building for the rookie as head coach Brad Stevens emphasized his faith in Nesmith before Sunday’s game against the Detroit Pistons.
“His work ethic is excellent. He’s in the gym first every day. He works with Joe [Mazulla], and I saw great strides in him, even in those games where he played, and he had some mixed results. But you could see the difference in him from game one. When his time comes, when his opportunity comes, we want to put him in a position to handle that successfully,” said Stevens.
Nesmith expressed similar words after Tuesday’s win, when asked about his work ethic.
“I come in every morning, I try to be the first one in the gym,” Nesmith said. “I get a lot of shots up, so that I can be ready when I get my chance. I’m confident when I get the ball.”
This win versus the Nuggets might have been the one the team needed to get back on track. However, it can be hard to support an idea such as that, when this type of victory has happened various times as of late. Just like their win against the Los Angeles Clippers after a tough loss to the Sacramento Kings, or a dominant win over the Toronto Raptors after losing two consecutive games to the Phoenix Suns and the Utah Jazz.
This is a seemingly repetitive sequence that has continued as the team went on to fall to the Atlanta Hawks by a final of 122-114 on Wednesday night.
Not only has Boston been inconsistent with their wins and playing style, but injuries have been lingering with a wide array of players. Even if it is just for a game or two, players such as Jaylen Brown, Daniel Theis, Marcus Smart, Tacko Fall and Romeo Langford have been ruled out in multiple games over the past few weeks. It’s tough to say how different the Celtics situation would be right now had injuries not taken over their roster.
After Sunday’s loss to the Washington Wizards, Brown was asked if his team had hit rock bottom.
“It could be,” said Brown. “It’s up to the mentality of everybody, how we come in every day and prepare to work. If you let it be a rock bottom mentality, then that’s what it’s going to be. You come to play, then it’ll show. And today we weren’t very good.”
These brutally honest words from Brown had to have been strengthened by the fact that he is not getting much help on offense. Two consecutive games in a row Brown has scored over 20 points with only one other teammate with him. Meanwhile against the Wizards, everyone on the team besides Brown and Kemba Walker had 13 consecutive misses in 21 minutes
The Celtics still sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. This unstable team might be able to make the playoffs at the state they are at right now, however, this effort will not fly when that time comes.
Photo courtesy of Charles Krupa.