The Celtics are still not playing up to potential because of Danny Ainge’s conservative decisions during the off season. I knew in my heart of hearts that the Celtics decisions were not inspired. The Celtics team stays in much the same place they found themselves late last season, a fourth quarter team, fighting to come back from behind.
One man does not a team make. Ainge should know better. Horford’s not the right guy. Then again, on some level, it really did not matter who the Celtic’s signed. Today’s professional basketball game thrives on a team approach focused on speed and effective fast-paced ball movement. The golden era of players like Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal is over. Having one good guy does not cut it.
Ainge’s signing of Horford was a safe decision. Horford is no change agent. He does not put up big numbers averaging 13.5 points a game. He does rebound. Rebounding is something the Celtics needed at the end of last season, and the Celtics are improving on each game this season. Fans saw Horford get possession back to the green team during Saturday night’s game against Detroit. Brad Stevens must tweak the defensive strategy. All players have a role to play, not just Horford. Terry Rozier, Avery Bradley, and Tyler Zeller have been collaborating well. More could be done on both sides of the court.
Lack of defense is where this Boston team loses steam and allows their opponents to get ahead. The Celtics’ endurance seems to diminish just before the half. Then they come back in the third and fourth quarter. Nevertheless, there was some improvement on Saturday. Some. There is no discernable strategy, or if there is the team seems to abandon it. They seem to straddle the line between man-to-man and zone while leaving a wide berth for their opponents up the middle. This Celtic failing was seen on Wednesday against the Mavericks.
Ainge really missed the mark with Horford. They needed a unifying force, and though it is early in the season Horford has not proved to be that guy. He is another pair of hands to rebound. Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley must score the majority of points. This is a major burden to put on two players when the successful teams spread points scored among more than one member of the team.
Tight final scores, uneven momentum and defense, and scrappy come-from-behind wins will continue to rule the Boston Celtics until Ainge gets together a more aggressive plan for personnel enhancement for Boston. Thankfully there are many more games left to play. And, if Ainge has the stomach for it, hopefully, he will use the ample cap space that he has to go after some additional talent to complement Thomas, Horford, and Bradley. DeMarcus Cousins anyone?