Many have tried to sum up a mind-boggling start of the season for the Boston Celtics, as they are just 10-10 through the first quarter of their 2018-19 campaign. The Celtics were thought to be the front-runners to take control of the East’s vacant throne after coming one game shy of unseating the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers from their reign as Eastern Conference champions, but a combination of poor play and lack of a firm mettle have mired them in an unforeseen position.
“It’s not one guy. It’s not two guys. It’s all of us,” head coach Brad Stevens said last week, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. “We’re not playing with the same personality we played with last year. That’s the easiest way to describe it. And then the 50,000 issues that are below that. We have to tackle one at a time.”
While the rest of the league has flourished with a newfound affinity for offensive basketball, the Celtics have been too concerned with defense and struggling to find buckets at the offensive end.
Boston has only reached 120 points once through this early part of the season — and that was a product of an overtime affair against the Toronto Raptors, who hold the best record in the league despite of it.
Asked to sum up the team’s main problem, Marcus Smart was much more poignant than Stevens:
“Lack of effort. Lack of fear. We don’t impose our fear and will on other teams.” Smart said. “Teams knew they were in for a fight [last year]. This year, teams can’t wait to play us. That’s a problem. When guys aren’t scared of you anymore there’s nothing you can do about that.”
The rest of the league has lost the respect the team carried last season, especially considering the damage they caused in the East without their two leading stars available for the postseason run.
The Celtics have identity issues to figure out, and they must do so quickly, as they’re barely hanging onto the seventh seed and boast the worst record in the last 10 games (4-6) for any team currently in contention for the playoffs.