Boston, MA - I recall the degree to which the Boston Celtics were favored to dominate the Eastern Conference at the beginning of the season. Then I return to the reality of a team that has been rather disappointing thus far this year, which is now past its halfway point. I have a little bit of hope that the Celtics are on the verge of turning things around, but I exercise caution. I sprinkle in a couple trade rumors and then I repeat the message.

And forty-four games into the season, nothing has changed so it's time to admit that the Boston Celtics are not only not a heavyweight in the NBA anymore, they're not even in the first two tiers of the league. The Celtics are clearly a middling, average basketball team that is thoroughly abandoning its full potential.

I think, at this point, it is also fair to say that, barring any sort of monumental collapse, the Celtics are going to make the playoffs. They may succeed there because of their unusual goodwill against some of the better teams in the league and their ability to play down to the level of some of the league's worst. (I'm more afraid to play the New York Knicks than I am the Golden State Warriors right now, as a Celtics fan.)

So they're going to be in the post-season. But they won't be favored against any of the potential teams they could play. Because from Milwaukee to Toronto, the Eastern Conference just has more competent teams than Boston.

Jayson Tatum scored thirty-four points last night against the Brooklyn Nets, but the Celtics still lost 109-102, which is their third straight loss on the schedule.

So at the trade deadline, Boston could make a move to unload Jaylen Brown or Terry Rozier, two of their liabilities, to potentially acquire Anthony Davis and elevate themselves in the Eastern Conference. But I think, at this point, we can declare the team that enticed so many fans at the beginning of the season is officially not going to win a championship. Changes have to be made. Internally or externally, changes have to be made.