BOSTON — Rajon Rondo has lived the 50-loss life once before. He’s not keen on experiencing it again.
Rondo earned an unfortunate distinction as a member of two different 50-loss teams when the Boston Celtics suffered yet another defeat Sunday. He’s the only current Celtic who was also a member of the ignominious 2006-07 squad, but whenever questioned about the similarities between this season and his rookie year, the point guard has been less than eager to talk about it.
“That was almost eight years ago,” Rondo said. “You try to put those type of memories, that season, away. I don’t think much about that season. I think about the following season and the years after that.”
What is for certain is that the 2006-07 team, like this one, was not very good. That much is not debatable. Even Celtics coach Brad Stevens, after another close game translated once again into a gut-wrenching defeat, was forced to admit the obvious after the 107-102 loss to the Chicago Bulls.
“The last few days have defined our reality,” Stevens said. “There’s no hiding from that. It is what it is, and the reality is, we’re a team that isn’t, by record, very good. A lot of people who are in our situation would not handle that the right way. Our task is to handle that the right way, to be professionals about it and then bring our best every day.”
As much as Rondo would like to forget 2007 — and possibly this season, as well – this entire rebuilding enterprise would be a waste if the Celtics pushed these struggles to the backs of their minds. As Stevens has mentioned multiple times in recent weeks, the Celtics have eight players under guaranteed contracts for next season. A summer fire sale is possible, but at least a few members of the current roster figure to be around for a while. It’s not as simple as cleaning house and moving on.
Even if it were so easy, it wouldn’t be prudent. As Winston Churchill said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” The Celtics have crashed and burned, but the failure affords Stevens a chance to reassess the situation and his approach. Potentially, the missteps of this season could provide context for Stevens’ best moves later, much like 2006-07 shaped Doc Rivers for future, championship-contending campaigns. Successful people and ventures analyze their downfalls as well as their triumphs, their deficiencies as well as their strengths, tough as it might be.
The season was effectively over a while ago, but nine games remain until it’s official. Still, the Celtics would be ill-served to merely play out the string. The remaining time on the court means something in the big picture, if not in the standings.
“I know you’ve got nine games — two weeks — left, and it’s like, how much better can you really get?” Stevens said. “Well, something adds up at the end of all this. We’ve got to make sure we keep plugging and keep identifying areas where we’re not performing.”