What we need here is patience.
By now, we all should have learned the lesson this Celtics team teaches every year: its regular season performance is in few ways predictive of what will happen come the playoffs.
Here’s Brendan after a particularly dispiriting loss against the Raptors last Feburary:
I literally considered that a terrorist plot was afoot and some nefarious characters were releasing some chemical weapon into the arena that made the Celtics so sluggish. Like carbon monoxide poisoning that was only activated by people wearing green. The lack of effort was that ridiculous.
A few days later, Hayes basically threw up the white flag when considering trade possibilities:
Without sacrificing Rondo or the Big Three, any pieces the Celtics could actually add or trade for wouldn’t be enough to put them over the top, so there’s no point in buying. Either keep the team together for the fans or start building for the future, but don’t pull the trigger on a deal unless Otis Smith is involved.
And after the Celtics got blown out by Detroit, I was ready to throw Lucky from the train:
Keeping the core together for one final run makes a lot of emotional sense, even if we know they’re unlikely to do any damage in the playoffs. But now at 15-15, and tied for 8th in the conference, going even two rounds deep is hardly a sure thing. The Celtics have played an easy schedule to date, and have yet to take a major injury hit. The schedule is about to get really tough and bodies are going to tire. They could play better the rest of the season and still see their record fall under .500.
A few weeks later, the Celtics moved Kevin Garnett to center, slipped Avery Bradley into the starting lineup and tore up the league.
In 2010-11, the Celtics were title favorites in mid-January. They were huge on the frontline. Kevin Garnett was rebounding like his younger self and Kendrick Perkins was about to come back from injury. Then Shaquille O’Neal got hurt, Danny Ainge dealt for a barely comatose Jeff Green and the season went irretrievably off the rails when Dwayne Wade tore Rajon Rondo’s arm out of its socket in the second round of the playoffs.
The year before that, the C’s punted half the season getting ready for the playoffs and then, as fans and observers went completely ballistic (don’t make me go copy-paste your comments!), they skipped their way to the Finals.
Things can change. And they will.
It’s understandable if you have serious concerns about the play of Green and Courtney Lee. You’d be forgiven if you were waking up in the middle of the night screaming about the team defense. And yeah, the rebounding remains a disaster and no reasonable assessment of its potential improvement gets the Celtics to a championship level.
But a lot can happen after a 6-6 start. Let’s see where we are on Christmas.
Then — I promise — we can really start to panic.