The NBA season has begun and the Boston Celtics have struggled out of the gate. After losing their first game to the Miami Heat in a hard fought game, the Celtics then lost to the Milwaukee Bucks. Although it was a close game, there is no reason for a championship contending team to be losing to the Bucks. In the team's most recent game, the Celtics barely beat the lowly Washington Wizards.
However, there is no need for Boston fans to panic. The Celtics started 0-3 last season and wound up one win away from the NBA finals.
One problem that is a little concerning has been their defense. Although they have only allowed more than 90 points once, their defensive rating is 108.4, which ranks 24th in the NBA. If the Celtics want to win a championship this year, their defense must improve.
Even with all of these negatives, the Celtics have done some things well this season. Here are five positive signs from the Celtics first three games.
Rajon Rondo has been one of the bright spots for the Celtics so far the season. Rondo has recorded a double-double in all three of the Celtics' games thus far.
Rondo's advanced statistics have been impressive as well.
Rondo is third in the league in assist percentage—according to basketballreference.com "Assist percentage is an estimate of the percentage of teammate field goals a player assisted while he was on on the floor."—at 48.8 percent. Also, Rondo has already contributed .4 wins to the Celtics season according to the win share statistic.
Rondo is playing at an All-Star level and will need to keep up his stellar play in order for the Celtics to compete for a championship this season.
Although the Boston Celtics have struggled to score in their two most recent games, the team is shooting the basketball at a high percentage.
The Celtics are shooting 46.4 percent from the field as a team, good for tenth in the NBA. In addition, the team has posted a 50.4 percent effective field goal percentage.
The problem with the Celtics isn't the fact that they are shooting poorly, but rather the fact that they are struggling on the defensive end.
Lastly, the Celtics are playing too fast for their roster. The Celtics' pace rating has been 93.8 over the first three games, which is way too high for their aging roster.
Brandon Bass has been solid in his two years playing for the Celtics. However, so far this year, Bass has been less involved in the offense.
Bass' player efficiency rating, 19.1, ranks third on the Celtics this season and is up from last year. Although this is a small sample size, it is still a good sign of how he has played so far this year.
One way that the Celtics could improve their team is by giving Bass the ball with more consistency. Bass ranks eighth on the Celtics in usage rating, which is partially due to their crowded frontcourt.
Jared Sullinger was the Celtics' first pick in the 2012 NBA draft, and has been a good rebounder so far this season. Sullinger was a great rebounder in college and has the strength to continue that dominance in the NBA.
The statistics back-up Sullinger's rebounding success so far this season. Sullinger actually has the highest rebounding percentage, an estimate of the percentage of available rebounds the player grabbed when he was on the court, on the Celtics this season.
If Sullinger continues to show this rebounding ability, Doc Rivers will be forced to give him more playing time.
Jeff Green sat out the entire 2011-2012 NBA season, so his return should add some youth to the Celtics lineup. Although Green has not stood out so far this season, he has been solid.
Green has not done well on the defensive end, but it has only been three games. Overall, Green's improvement will be key for the 2012-2013 Celtics' squad.