The Celtics Are Still Contenders (Technically), but the Clubhouse Is Wary
Boston, MA - I am wary to write off the Boston Celtics completely this season for two main reasons. For one, they're still very talented and, barring a historic collapse, while be present in the post-season this year. As unlikely as championship prospects might seem right now, the Celtics are still going to be competing in April. For another, the past year has a long track record of Boston sports media figures declaring that the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots have been labeled as "dead in the water" at various points of their respective seasons. I won't make the same mistake with the Celtics. When it comes to Boston teams, they always have a shot.
But this is definitely the low point of a Celtics season that has been so far defined by its low points. Gordon Hayward is a shell of his former self. Brad Stevens finds himself unable to get the most out of anyone on the roster, aside from Kyrie Irving (which probably has more to do with Kyrie, if we're being honest). Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have not developed further past their astounding campaigns during the 2017-18 season. And the role players of the Celtics aren't capable of picking up the slack on their own.
Now, the clubhouse has all but collapsed. A team that has struggled all season with chemistry has now reached the nadir of toxicity in terms of behind the scenes drama. (At least, we can only hope it doesn't get worse.)
Last week, Irving said he did not owe the Celtics anything when it came to re-signing in the off-season. This came after he publicly called out the young core of the Celtics for not competing with the skills that they will need when the post-season rolls around. Of course, Brown and Marcus Morris had a bit of animosity on the bench as they got into a small skirmish. And now, the clubhouse is all but dead after back-to-back losses that came from blown leads. The Celtics lost their edge over the Los Angeles Lakers on a Rajon Rondo buzzer beater and then they blew a twenty-eight point lead against the Los Angeles Clippers and they lost Irving to another knee injury.
After the game, the Celtics were jeered off the court by their fans (an astounding idea, considering the last two major sports championships have been won by Boston teams) and Morris told reporters that there is no joy in playing for the Celtics currently.
It's a messy situation and the path to fixing it hopefully begins tomorrow night against the Philadelphia 76ers.