Kevin Garnett is Back: Will It Change Anything for the Struggling C's?

Nick GelsoCorrespondent IJanuary 21, 2010

CHICAGO - DECEMBER 12: Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics looks back at the Celtic bench during a game against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on December 12, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Celtics defeated the Bulls 106-80. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images


We can all exhale after holding our breath for 11 games. Without question, I did not expect to go 5-6 in Kevin Garnett's absence. I did feel the Celtics would inevitably struggle without the Big Ticket, but I never expected the team to fall below .500 while the Ticket recovered. This team's problems strike much deeper then missing their aging spiritual and defensive leader.

On a team that is stacked with potential present and past All-Stars, the Celtics should have won more than they lost without Garnett. Losing to inferior opponents such as the Warriors, Bulls, and Pistons, many questions about heart and focus have come into light.

Most disturbing have been the Celtics back-to-back losses to the Atlanta Hawks, an emerging Eastern Conference power holding very little respect for the Eastern Conference's last NBA champion.

The Hawks have always given the Celtics fits with athleticism and length, however, it is without question that they are an inferior ball club. Yet the C's dropped two games and hung their heads.

The Boston Celtics I remember would have come out and steamrolled over any team that challenged their authority, league position, or talent level. Forcing their will on teams that can outrun and out-jump them requires a motivation that is drawn directly from the player's heart.

Am I questioning the heart of a (former) champion? I can say openly that I am.

One game away from the halfway point of the season (can you believe it?) and the Celtics have already exceeded their home loss record of one year ago and are on pace to equal their 2008 and 2009 home losses combined this season.

Half of the games in the team's loss column have come from sub-.500 ball clubs. They have lost three consecutive games twice and are on the verge of a fourth consecutive (fourth home as well) loss if Garnett's return does not provide a spark for the struggling C's.

I feel the Celtics have been looking at each other in shock since their first loss of the season to Phoenix at the Garden. I can see visions of a frustrated Paul Pierce, a befuddled Kendrick Perkins, an overweight Glen Davis, a trigger-happy Rasheed Wallace, and a coach defending them at every breath.

Is it time for Doc to explode? Fact is, though the Doc always plays lawyer publicly, he must be throwing clipboards and launching chairs in the locker room, right? If not, this team's lackadaisical approach to playing is being facilitated by a coach that is enabling their inexcusably poor play.

Just two seasons ago, the Celtics could have built a beautiful photo album of highlight-reel plays that were so dominant that it was hard to find the few low points. Even last season, a year that was decimated by injuries to key players, showed a team that boasted a 62-20 record as the exhausted players' hearts gushed onto the court.

Why, in a year that they are equipped to handle key injuries, has this team struggled so much?

Of course we all turn to injuries and they have played a key factor in the (sometimes) lack of chemistry this team displays. The several different incarnations of the lineup have resulted in very choppy bouts of play that leave fans wondering who is willing to step up. I found myself asking...READ MORE