The Boston Celtics were the preseason favorite to win the Eastern Conference but as we enter Monday’s action, they are merely in fifth place. In Episode 41 of Chris Sheridan’s Sports Betting Tips podcast, the veteran NBA journalist is joined by Gary Washburn, the top columnist from the Boston Globe, to discuss what’s gone wrong for the Celtics.
“It’s been a tough season,” says Washburn. “There have been a lot of adjustments and I don’t think they envisioned that. Everybody knew there was going to be some changes given the return of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, that Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were going to have to adjust, but nobody had any idea it would take this long.”
Chemistry has definitely been an issue for the Celtics and that was brought to a head just two days ago when Irving publicly called out his young teammates after a loss to Orlando. Tatum had 16 in that game and Brown had 14, but the Celtics blew a 10-point halftime lead to lose to a Magic side that is now just 11-11 at home. Irving was frustrated that he didn’t get the last shot with the game on the line.
Both Tatum and Brown are still playing well but their shooting percentages are down. Brown is about two percent worse from the field and nine percent worse from three, while Tatum is three percent worse from the field and seven percent worse from three.
The Celtics now travel to Brooklyn to face the Nets, who are 13-5 in their last 18 games.
“It’s going to be tough for the Celtics with no Kyrie Irving and no Marcus Smart,” says Washburn. “You have a new backcourt that’s probably Brown and Terry Rozier, so it all depends. Those guys can strike for 30 or strike 3-for-15 from the field”.
The other main issue for the Celtics this season has been the play of Gordon Hayward. The former All-Star, who was lost to injury all of last season, has been a shell of himself. There was always going to be an adjustment period but we’re talking about a player that averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 threes per game in his final season in Utah. This year, Hayward is averaging just 11.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists. The bigger issue is that he’s shooting just 42.2 percent from the field and 39.8 percent from three, which is down from 47.1 percent and 32.7 percent in his final year in Utah. Not only is he not a difference maker, he’s become a burden. Should he be starting? Should he come off the bench and let one of the younger Celtics develop? It’s a tough spot considering he’s playing on a max contract.
At the end of the day, while many people are worried about the Celtics, the sky is not falling just yet. Yes, they’ve lost two in a row but they had won five of six before then. They started the season 10-10 and are 15-7 since. And keep in mind that while they are 6.5 games out of first in the East, they’ve only played 20 home games while the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors have all played at least 22 or more.
To hear the full breakdown on the Celtics struggles and their game tonight, tune into the Sports Betting Tips podcast at GetMoreSports.com.
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