The Boston Celtics are currently 8-6, but that record is misleading. The Celtics are capable of playing much better than they've been this November. Due to circumstances, they've swallowed a few losses that should have been wins.
In fact, Boston should be 10-4 right now.
Two losses so far stick out as unacceptable and avoidable: Brooklyn on Nov. 15 and Detroit on Nov. 18. In Brooklyn, the C's played without Rajon Rondo, who missed the game with an injury. His absence was a considerable setback for the team, because Leandro Barbosa still hasn't fully learned the offense yet. Rondo is so good at what he does, and his presence makes the offense run smoother. So whenever he's gone, it's a challenge.
In addition to Rondo's absence, Paul Pierce failed to be clutch that night. The man whose name is synonymous with consistency missed two key free throws in the final minute of the game. Pierce's layup attempt had barely missed when he was fouled. Instead of the game potentially being tied with a basket and free throw, the Celtics remained down by three when Pierce couldn't connect.
The Celtics needed that win in Brooklyn, especially against their Atlantic Division competitors. They should have won that night, but they simply didn't deliver.
While the Brooklyn loss was avoidable, the Detroit loss was just unacceptable. The Pistons were 2-9 when they hosted the 6-5 Celtics. Boston trailed by as many as 22 points in their fourth game in five nights, which led to a 20-point blowout win for the Pistons. Even though Boston was understandably winded, a loss in that fashion to the Pistons can't happen again.
There's no doubt that the Celtics' 2012-13 season got off to a bumpy start. However, Doc Rivers has made it clear that his team won't lose sight of their long-term goal of a championship in order to achieve a short-term gain. The Celtics are currently in the building process, and trying to get each player to learn his role. As the players gain a better understanding of their roles, the consistency will come.
If any single thing contributed the most to the Celtics' 8-6 record, it would have to be lack of consistency. When the bench was called upon, you never knew whether anyone would step up to the plate. While Jason Terry and Jeff Green were said to be the leaders of the secondary unit, both players struggled with consistency in their new roles.
In the Nov. 4 entry of his diary for ESPNBoston.com, Jason Terry talked about how fans needed to be patient with the team.
I think we did struggle a little bit to start the season. But...we're very optimistic. We know our ceiling is very high with our expectations. We know if we continue to grow at a steady pace, then we'll be clicking at the right time, which is what we want.
The Celtics are finally seeming to click, as seen in their big win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, the defending Western Conference champs. Boston played like the team they should be, the team that will end up with a much better record than the current 8-6 would suggest.
Pierce was on fire and scored 22 of his 27 points in the second half. Kevin Garnett had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Celtics, and Rondo had 16 assists and eight rebounds.
The bench also did its part. Green came to play against his former team, and scored a season-high 17 points off the bench. Jared Sullinger and Chris Wilcox both played with efficiency and intensity, two things that have been inconsistent in the past. Terry even showed his clutch capabilities by hitting a three-pointer with 37 seconds left to clinch the game.
That team was the real Boston Celtics. They followed up with another win over the Orlando Magic to show that their foot is still on the gas. Boston has some time to prepare for their next game, a home rematch against the Brooklyn Nets.
The Celtics' current record showcases inconsistencies, but don't write them off yet. If these last couple of wins tell you anything, it's that the Celtics are starting to show a glimpse of their true team.
This is only the beginning.