Boston Celtics fans were thrilled when the Celtics managed to go 7-2 during Kevin Garnett's time on the sidelines while he recovered from painful abdominal injury.
Unfortunately the post All-Star west coast road trip has proven tougher than expected when the Celtics dropping back-to-back games to the Denver Nugget and Golden State Warriors this week.
Should Celtics fans be worried?
During the last two games, Boston’s defense has been awful—they allowed over 119 points per game—and even let the lowly New York Knicks, who scored 103 in the last game before the All-Star break.
Compare that to Celtics defensive stinginess that was yielding only 90.67 points per game at the All-Star break.
Something is going on here and it's not good.
First, experienced NBA teams have a tendency to not play hard during the first half of the season; they mail it in and do just enough to win.
However, this year's Celtics came out aggressive and ready to play. The combination of the newly formed Big Three (Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce) wanted to make their mark early. Surrounding them were a bunch of rookies and no-names that were trying to earn their spot.
Unlike most teams, they played hard each night. Unfortunately, now others are waking from their winter hibernation and coming to play.
Second, Garnett makes a big difference defensively for the Celtics. His presence in the paint is huge. Unfortunately, he is not playing at 100 percent capacity right now. That means fewer minutes on the floor and a little less intensity while he is on the floor.
Third, Doc Rivers needs to do a better job of adjusting during a game. He needs to change the tempo of the game to suit his team and unnerve the opponents. The Nuggets and Warriors like to run the ball and push the pace. The Celtics need to change the tempo and make the other team adjust.
If New England Patriot's coach Bill Belichick were coaching this team, he would come to each game with a specific game plan to beat the opponent. He would "take what the other team gave him" and beat them with his versatile team.
I suggest Doc Rivers take a page out of the Patriots' book (save the Super Bowl) and develop new ways to beat teams.
And play better defense!