5 Troubling Signs from Boston Celtics' First Week
Given their proximity to wins in each game, things aren't as bad as they seem for Boston. However, there are reasons for a team to lose its first four games, and they aren't pretty.
With the Celtics floundering in search of their first win, there have been some troubling developments at the outset of this young season. Boston has a long way to go to become a winning team, and it may not happen this season.
For now, we can alert the signs and hope they are addressed in the coming weeks now that the team has real games under its collective belt.
Jeff Green's Deserved Benching
Jeff Green's fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons can be looked at in more than one way.
Boston's starting small forward and current leading scorer was benched for the final frame in a tight game. New head coach Brad Stevens clearly saw something he didn't like and kept Green on the bench, even when Boston had a chance to win.
This can be viewed as a positive. Stevens clearly has control over his squad and is willing and able to do whatever it takes for that to remain so. If a rookie head coach is alright with benching his best player, I think he has the attitude to succeed at this level.
However, you can also view this as a troubling sign. Green may be no different than he has always been. Inconsistencies have shown yet again through the first week. Green is averaging 16.8 points, but his per-game totals have gone 25, 13, 7, 22.
If Green can't get into a consistent groove offensively, then neither can the Celtics, and the losses will continue piling up.
Fourth-quarter production as a whole has been atrocious for the Boston Celtics.
This team has had an opportunity to win each game they've played, but a lousy final frame doomed them each time.
The scores of those fourth quarters adds up to a 109-66 point differential that is not going to win many games. On average, Boston would need more than an 11-point lead through three quarters to win those games.
Boston has obviously stalled with no go-to scorer. Rajon Rondo may become that player when he returns, but that isn't a sure thing. The Celtics really miss Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce at this time. This is a new job that all these players are learning in their absence.
Jeff Green, the team's lone potential star, has been little to no help. He was benched for the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons and made invisible by Tony Allen and the Memphis Grizzlies. Avery Bradley has 11 fourth-quarter points to lead the team.
The Celtics have yet to score 20 points in a fourth quarter. Even more alarmingly, they have four total points in the final two minutes of any game and zero in the last three games' final minutes.
This team can't even dream of closing games right now.
How Bad Are MarShon Brooks and Kris Humphries Defensively?
Given the state of this overall team, how bad must Kris Humphries and MarShon Brooks look at practice that they aren't being given any run during games.
Both were thought to possibly be contributors to the Boston Celtics this season, Humphries more so, but neither have gotten the opportunity so far.
In Humphries' one appearance, he did superbly in limited minutes. The Celtics' new big posted eight points and nine rebounds to go with a pair of blocks and 3-of-4 shooting. Since then, he hasn't take off his warm-ups.
Part of Humphries' lack of playing time may have to do with the play of rookie big Vitor Faverani. He has a size advantage on Humphries and can play a more traditional center role, which Brad Stevens appears to like right now. Faverani has also been a big surprise with his productivity.
As for Brooks, he hasn't seen but a seven-minute segment against the Detroit Pistons. Jordan Crawford, Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee is Stevens' guard rotation for now. None of the three have been particularly bad, at least enough to warrant a shift.
Brooks needs to learn from practice and find a niche that he can fit into.
The Boston Celtics are sporting a league-worst 0.68 assist-turnover ratio. There should be extra emphasis on league-worst there, as Boston is a full 0.22 behind No. 29 Oklahoma City Thunder.
The team hasn't been able to succeed offensively. Their turnover differential is second only to the Houston Rockets for worst in the league at plus-4.7. They are committing a league-worst 21 turnovers per game right now, a wildly errant number that may not be corrected for a while.
Until Rajon Rondo returns to help Boston run an actual offense with reasonable success, Brad Stevens appears set on trotting out a starting backcourt of Avery Bradley and another shooting guard. Bradley does not have point guard skills, and after ample time knowing this would be his role over the offseason, it is safe to say those skills aren't coming.
Until Stevens starts using Phil Pressey a bit or Danny Ainge makes a move to acquire a marginal point guard, these numbers will continue to be depressing.
For the Tanking Crowd: This Team Isn't That Bad so Far
Those left with a small grin following each Boston Celtics loss this season are sitting pretty right now.
However, the tanking fans are not immune to troubling signs. Their's are just a bit different in style.
Boston may not be bad enough right now. For a team that is 0-4, they have looked decent in all their games and had opportunities to steal each one. All four games have come against playoff contenders with a combined record of 7-8. Three of those games have come on the road, including a back-to-back.
The Celtics haven't been blown away by anyone like the Utah Jazz and Philadelphia 76ers were recently. They have been competitive each night. This team may win some games without Rajon Rondo.
Upon his return, whenever that is, the team might even round into playoff-caliber shape. Of course, it will all depend on how many games remain when that gets around to happening.