Editor’s Note: This is the second of a three-part “three-man weave” on CelticsHub.com. Check back tomorrow afternoon for another fresh perspective.
Call me overconfident but I am not overly worried about the Celtics lack of success playing elite teams this year. When you look at the Celtics 1-4 record against these teams, I think the quotes Jeff Clark of Celticsblog pulled from Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers at the end of the Spurs game explain my lack of anxiety:
Pierce: “When you play the top teams in the league, it comes down to the little things. One play can kill you. Every possession counts, and we’ve got to understand that when we play against the top-tier teams like the Spurs and the Lakers.”
Rivers echoed Pierce’s comments about executing the little things and went further.
“Well it tells me that we’re really good, because we’ve not played with our A-game and we still had a chance to win both.”
That last quote by Rivers sums it up for me perfectly right there. In each of these five games the Celtics have not played a complete game. Even in the season opener against Cleveland they won, they were not impressive and benefited from Lebron James choking on some free throws down the stretch.
Despite the C’s not playing well they nearly went 3-2 in these games. A couple breaks go our way such as KG fouling out on a phantom call against LA, and the bizarre Ray Allen turnover at the end of the San Antonio game and we would likely not even be having this discussion.
The encouraging thing is that despite not playing a complete game the Celtics could have stolen both of these games. However they didn’t and we shouldn’t have expected them too. The ball didn’t fall our way either of these nights. It happens.
What would have alarmed me in these games is if the Celtics were playing up to their potential, especially at home and still lost these games. That would show that the talent gap would be in the other contenders favor, and that is a department that the Celtics will likely not be able to address over the rest of this season. I think most Celtics fans would agree though that this has not been the case.
My mindset right now is in a wait and see approach regarding this team. The Celtics still have a total of three matchups with Cleveland and San Antonio on the calendar. If the Celtics fail to play well and do not win any of these games, then yes it is time to hit the panic button.
The Celtics proved they could match up with these teams in crunch time during last year’s playoffs. I do not think they have lost that this year. They have just not shown it yet.
Is this Celtics team more flawed than last year? Absolutely. Will these flaws keep the Celtics from beating said teams in a seven game series? That remains to be seen. For now however I still remain confident in the defending champs.