The Boston Celtics are in a rut right now. Quite frankly, they’ve been in a relative rut all season long.
The 2018-19 season started with the highest of hopes for a team that came within one game of the NBA Finals a year ago without two of its best players. Inconsistent play has been the Celtics’ biggest bugaboo, but the more troubling development has been the recent trend of inconsistent efforts.
Things seemingly hit a low point Tuesday night in Toronto when the Raptors bludgeoned the Celtics. That game started well enough for Boston, but the Raptors went on an 18-0 run in the second quarter, and the Celtics more or less folded. It was that behavior that really caught the eye of Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
“We were ready to play to start the game and anxious, excited (for a) Raptors game, and we came out of the gates and played well,” Ainge said Thursday in an interview with “Toucher and Rich” on 98.5 The Sports Hub. “Then we hit that skid in the second quarter and I think there was hope lost. If there’s one word I’d say that describes this team so far is ‘frustrating.’ We lack that resolve.
“At home, it’s been better. I think our crowd has been good, keeping us in there when things aren’t going great a lot of this year, but we haven’t been as good of a road team, and I don’t know if we’ve had enough resolve to fight through those types of 22-2 runs, so that was disappointing in that Toronto game. I didn’t think we had that fight to get out of that hole once we got in it.”
Ainge correctly labeled it an “ugly performance.” And while the Celtics were able to take positives out of a fourth straight loss Thursday night, Ainge admitted the search for answers is ongoing.
“I think everybody has some fault,” he said. “We all are to blame, from the top all the way down to the bottom player. There’s blame to be passed around all. I think expectations were probably a little too high for this team this year, especially coming out of the gate. Our team has not been able to find any sort of rhythm, consistently. We’ve had some great runs, and when we played on all cylinders, you could see the talent there, but it hasn’t connected consistently.”
If that doesn’t happen soon, hopes for another deep run will be completely dashed.