Disappointing loss to Clippers show Celtics still have problems

Two nights ago, the Boston Celtics had a chance to close a West Coast road trip with their fourth consecutive victory. The Celtics had opened the four-game swing with a commanding victory at Golden State, slapping the defending champions by 33 points.

That was followed by victories on the home courts of the Kings and the Lakers. Monday night, the trip ended as it started with a blowout. The problem? Boston was on the wrong side of a 140-115 outcome against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The three consecutive victories were attributed to a “magical” plane ride, a four-hour bonding experience. The Celtics’ on-court struggles and locker room troubles which had plagued them all season had apparently disappeared. Boston was becoming the team that many expected them to be – one that could challenge for an NBA title.

As Warriors fans might say about the Celtics’ runaway was a fluke, Boston fans can rationalize the loss to the Clippers. The Celtics have been nothing but inconsistent, balancing stretches of impressive plays with a string of disconnected performances.

But with 14 regular-season games remaining and Boston in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, this basic question has been unanswered: What is wrong with the Boston Celtics?

Could it be that they are not playing team basketball and only playing for themselves? While that could be it, the assist totals from this year’s team compared to last year’s team are not that far apart. Last year, Boston averaged 27 assists per game; this year it’s at 26 per game.

Could it be that Kyrie Irving already has one foot out the door and is focused on what he is going to do after this season vs what he is doing this season?  There have been multiple reports that Irving has become uninterested in this year’s team and has grown distant from his teammates.

If it’s true that Irving is thinking about next season with another team, it doesn’t bode well for this season in Boston.

Regardless of what is plaguing the Celtics, time is running out to fix the problems – fast. If repairs aren’t made, a deep run in the playoffs is unlikely.

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