Can it get any worse for the Boston Celtics?
A headline that’s become all too familiar to fans, the Celtics have failed to meet the lofty expectations set for them by pundits and fans alike at the start of the season. Another poor performance against the Toronto Raptors has once again reaffirmed the dysfunction and confusion emanating from the Celtics locker room. A tough loss on national TV, a final score of 118-95 is indicative of the malaise setting in at TD Garden.
After a competitive first quarter, the Celtics watched the Raptors go on an 18-0 run early in the second quarter that effectively put the game away before half-time. Oddly enough, Brad Stevens uncharacteristically lost his cool with the referees in a moment that I’m sure is earning numerous playbacks on Twitter.
Nevertheless, this was another expert performance by the Toronto Raptors. They continued to shoot well from 3, making 17 of 36 attempts, while also limiting their turnovers, a constant struggle for the team this season, in an important game against a division rival. Most impressively, they kept Kyrie Irving in check throughout the game, limiting his opportunities and keeping him in the single digits for the first time since October.
A normal occurrence during an 82-game season, teams regularly run into a team at the height of their power while their opponents are coming off a tough slate of games, however, this is beginning to become a norm for the Boston Celtics.
The All-Star break was supposed to offer time to reset and dial in for the playoff stretch, but the Celtics are now on a three-game losing streak with a humiliating loss to the lowly Chicago Bulls still playing in the back of their minds.
That made this meeting with the Raptors ever more significant with added emphasis from the press keenly aware of the disharmony within the organizations. Unfortunately, they were unable to meet the standards of the Raptors on the court with another tough loss against a conference rival and potential playoff opponent.
This is only made worse by the way the Celtics lost. Losing all hope after the second quarter, the Celtics came out of halftime beaten and sheepish looking for a way out of the game.
Another loss drops the Celtics to 37-24, leaving them two games behind the Philadelphia 76ers for fourth in the East. Projecting off current form, the Celtics are slowly falling out of contention for the third seed and could find themselves without home-court advantage in a series against the surging Philadelphia 76ers.
Speaking to CBS Sports after the Celtics loss to the Bulls, Irving had this to say to reporters, “I don’t get frustrated about this stuff anymore. It’s just part of the regular season. In the playoffs, when you can plan for a team, prepare for a team, I still don’t see anybody beating us in seven games.”
Irving’s confidence is understandable, but even with the Celtics playoff pedigree and the return of Irving and Hayward, a matchup with the 76ers in the first round could spell trouble for the streaky Celtics. At the moment, Tuesday night’s loss to the Toronto Raptors is another worrying moment in a season that’s seemingly beginning to fall apart before our eyes.