Inconsistent. Like the weather in New England, so go your Boston Celtics...
As I watch this 2023 NBA postseason, I’ve been thinking a lot of the Boston teams and eras across my lifetime. Wondering if there is any, that has frustrated me and its fan base overall like these Conference Finals loitering Boston Celtics of the last few years.
After further review…I think not.
Many teams suffer from inconsistency and by definition, it can be frustrating to follow or experience. Parents understand this better than most. Inconsistency however can be expected and even forgivable in some circumstances. Your 2023 Red Sox are a good example of that. Let’s be honest, who has any expectations for this year’s Red Sox team? I have zero and that’s largely thanks to Chief Baseball Officer, Chaim Bloom, building a team destined for a .500 finish. Thanks to the nature of teams that are on or about .500, the ups come and go as quickly as the downs. Think of the Detroit Lions who for the most part have been perennially on or about .500 for their entire existence. On rosters like those, there’s simply just not enough talent.
That’s not the case with the Boston Celtics. The roster is talented, deep and well-fortified. So, what’s the problem?
In the case of the Celtics, their inconsistency is of the most infuriating sort; not reaching its potential, not meeting expectations and playing down to its lowest possible form at the most inopportune times. If any New Englanders punched holes in their collective walls over the last couple of days, the court of public opinion will leave you with merely a warning and no fine; largely because they may have done it too. We’re all feeling it, again…
Today or during any spring since 2019, if you were given but one word to define the post rookie era of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, the choices would not be positive ones. Inconsistent, frustrating, maddening or perhaps ‘unactualized;’ defined as “not reaching one’s potential.” The Celtics are killing our collective spirits with their lowest common denominator play while letting their best opportunity to win Banner 18 slip away, yet again…
It's inconsistency in its absolute worst form and it’s no longer acceptable.
If you are looking for reasons why, the answers are simple and hauntingly familiar. This has been a wash-rinse-repeat experience since the Celtics early exit from the 2019 postseason, followed by several deep postseason failures since. Ironically, their late postseason collapses have actually been, wait for it…consistent.
Since being lovable underdogs in the 2017 & 2018 Eastern Conference Finals, the Tatum-Brown-Smart led Celtics have never been able to ascend from ‘lucky to be there’ underdogs to championship contending winners. The roster is better and the development of Tatum and Brown has evolved as we expected. However, that 2017-2018 ‘lucky to be there’ mentality has clearly never gone away.
They cannot close and clearly, they remain as emotionally immature as they were in their earliest conference championship contending years. Worse, they are now ‘led’ by a coach less mature than them. Herein lay the problem.
Label it however you like. Mentally weak, immature, entitled, unfocused, jittery, tense, all of those labels apply. What is complicating matters now though, is proving to be a lack of leadership. The Celtics supposed leader, Head Coach Joe Mazzulla, has proven time and again that he is not ready for this opportunity and is unfit for his job. When the Celtics players’ immaturity seeps in during the critical moments, where do they turn? To a young man who is showing to be as immature on the sidelines and in the post-game press room as his players are on the floor.
If you’re wondering why they play so inconsistently, look no further than there. As my late, great Dad used to say about the Red Sox of the 80’s, “they’re consistently inconsistent.” They sure were but they were never as frustrating as these Celtics have become and quite consistently, I may add. I rather label it this way, it’s consistent inconsistency in its worst possible form. These are your 2023 Boston Celtics.