After winning about nine billion games in a row, the Boston Celtics have fallen to Earth, and recently made a thud so loud that Larry Bird is probably shaking in his grave.
Bird is alive and well, of course, which makes this all the more shocking.
Their first big loss came in totally honorable fashion, on the road in Los Angeles to the Lakers on Christmas day. Nothing wrong with that. It happens. Lots of teams lose to the Lakers.
Since then, it’s been a wild ride, with more crashes than anything else.
The very next day, on December 26, Boston lost in Golden State to the Warriors, 99-89. In that game, the Celtics were called for 31 fouls, hit just six three-pointers, and only connected on 17 of their 25 free throws. Stephen Jackson scored 28 and Marco Belinelli had 22. Kendrick Perkins was out for Boston.
Two days later, Boston traveled to Sacramento, and laid total destruction on the Kings, winning 108-63.
On December 30, the Celtics found themselves in Portland, facing a tough Trail Blazers squad. The home team won 91-86. Paul Pierce dropped 28 points in the loss. The Celtics as a team only shot 40.3%, hit just 3-of-14 three-pointers, but kept the game close thanks to 29-of-31 free throws. But Portland dominated the glass, winning the rebounding battle 44-29. The Blazers got a nice balanced effort, and they did it without star Brandon Roy, who was out injured.
On January 2, Boston hosted the Washington Wizards, and won easily, 108-83. This time, the Celtics shot 55.4%, the opponent 38.3%. And Boston nailed 12-of-20 three-pointers and easily won in the rebound and assist categories. Paul Pierce had 26 points, though just one rebound and one assist. No other Celtic scored more than 11.
On January 4, the Celtics were in New York to face the Knicks, and lost 100-88. They fell apart in the third quarter, scoring just 15. Kevin Garnett was almost invisible in the scoring category, shooting 1-of-6 for 6 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocks. Paul Pierce stepped up delivering big in multiple ways. Ray Allen put up bricks. Boston as a team shot just 40.5% and hit just 6-of-25 three-pointers. The Knicks were 41.5%, but nailed 9-of-22 three-pointers (five from Al Harrington) and 23-of-28 free throws. Harrington finished with 30 points. Wilson Chandler had 31.
And yesterday, January 6, the Celtics visited the Bobcats in Charlotte and lost 114-106 in overtime. Charlotte totally dominated the extra period, scoring 17 super-quick points. Emeka Okafor grabbed 17 rebounds in the game. The Bobcats managed 48.1% shooting, totally defying Boston’s defense. And the Celtics again struggled from three-point range, hitting just 6-of-23 (Ray Allen was just 3-of-11 from downtown). The Celtics had lots of nice performances, though Rajon Rondo had an insanely awful 9 turnovers. The Bobcats’ offense was simply not to be denied this day.
Tonight, the Celtics are at home to face the Houston Rockets, then head to Cleveland for a must-watch matchup with the Cavaliers.
Then, things get easier, as they have two games against the Raptors, and two against the Nets.