Boston Celtics’ Late Season Slump Continues
Last season, the Boston Celtics finished in second place in the Western Conference just 4 games behind first place Toronto. This season, they appeared to be mired in 5th place with no real sign of improvement. On Sunday, Boston lost their 4th straight game and are 6-6 SU/4-7-1 ATS in the month of March. Not exactly the stretch run you’d expect to see from a team that was considered to be a serious contender for the Eastern Conference title heading into the season. Even more alarming–the month of March was an improvement over February when Boston went 2-6 SU/3-5 ATS. Over the past two months they’re on a 8-12 SU/6-13-1 ATS run.
From a pointspread standpoint, there are some very alarming situational breakdowns. On the road, the Celtics are just 17-19 SU/14-20-2 ATS. They’ve turned a profit against the East both SU (29-15) and against the spread (24-19-1) but have been manhandled by their foes in the West. Against Western Conference teams, Boston is 14-16 SU/10-19-1 ATS. They’ve been a terrible pointspread investment as a road favorite. They’re 12-12 SU in that role but a miserable 7-15-2 against the number.
One thing working in their favor–with only eight games remaining in the regular season they’re realistically not going to fall further than 5th place. The Brooklyn Nets are in 6th place but are five games back. Then again, they’re running out of time if they want to run down the teams in front of them. They’re 2 games back of fourth place Indiana and 4.5 games back of third place Philadelphia. They can forget about catching second place Toronto (8 games ahead) or first place Milwaukee (12 games ahead).
Boston has suffered from inconsistency on the court and some chemistry issues off the court. Reports suggest that Kyrie Irving has been a major chemistry issue though for his part he’s not really concerned about the regular season. Asked if it’s hard to maintain confidence despite the team’s recent struggles:
“Oh, it’s not hard. I’m used to gearing up for something bigger than myself around this time, and what it takes, and I have to do a better job of communicating that to my teammates and being a better listener and kind of figuring out how to best communicate with those guys that point.”
“At this point of the season, I’m on the VersaClimber, I’m on the treadmill, I’m getting ready to play 40-plus minutes and getting ready for the wars and battles. At the end of the season, it’s just practice time. You don’t feel right about your jump shot, you don’t feel right about the team. … We’re still developing as a team.”
“It’s been a whole season doing so, but there’s light at the end of all this. That’s probably where my patience will always lie, is knowing that something’s beyond this. This challenge is happening for a reason, and I’ve got to believe in that.”
Guard Marcus Smart is either extremely confident or downright delusional with his suggestion that the Celtics will be fine come playoff time:
“I think it’s that we’re so talented, that we’re not stressing like everybody else is, because we know once we do get it clicking — once we get that, we feel like we will be back to ourselves. We’re not as worried because we are so talented, and everything going on right now can, and will, be fixed.”
Celtics’ coach Brad Stevens expressed more urgency:
“We have to be better. We were a better defensive team in the first two months of the season than we’ve played at any time in the last month. So, to me, it’s not about what we’re doing. It’s about how well we do it every single night. That’s where we have to get back to. And so, we’re getting exposed by good teams.”
The current odds to win the NBA Championship have the Celtics as the fifth betting choice along with the Philadelphia 76ers at +1400. The Golden State Warriors are an overwhelming favorite to defend their NBA title priced at -200.