For Celtics fans, Boston may not have met expectations, especially in the first month of the NBA season. With a record of 10-8, no one expected the Celtics to struggle like they have, and also the way they’ve lost has been concerning, especially for a veteran team like Boston. If there is one thing that at least eases the pain of watching the Celtics struggle, it’s witnessing the Lakers do even worse. After the trade that sent Dwight Howard to LA, everyone believed that the Lakers would be the best in the West, but 19 games into the season, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
These struggles that both Boston and LA have faced are very similar. Both benches are not producing the numbers to help lift the team to victories, and key players are not playing at their best or up to their expectations, like Pau Gasol and Jeff Green. Yet, the Lakers have an outstanding starting five, and to start below .500 is very surprising, but there are a few factors that have come into play for the Lakers.
Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant do not compliment each other well. Unlike the days when Shaq and Kobe were dominating the game, both players’ individual success came from playing with each other. Dwight Howard had already experienced eight successful years in Orlando on his own, and he was their franchise player. You can say that maybe the circumstances were similar to when LeBron James went to Miami, but the biggest difference was that Dwyane Wade was willing to step aside and let James do what he did so well in Cleveland. Unfortunately for Howard, Kobe is not willing to share the spotlight, and for the time being that’s one of the reasons why they’re struggling.
Other factors include a coaching change and Steve Nash’s injury. Without Nash, the Lakers don’t have a field general who can distribute the ball evenly and as a consequence it’s up to Kobe to handle the ball. Also, whether it’s Mike Brown or Mike D’Antoni the Lakers will continue to struggle. D’Antoni’s game style of the run and gun offense won’t work, especially when LA has a center who doesn’t run the floor all that well, and not emphasizing defense enough is a very dangerous game to play when they’re facing a team like Oklahoma City or San Antonio who can both put up points in a hurry.
When it comes to Boston’s poor start, factors such as age and lack of contributions off the bench have been some of the keys to why the Celtics are 10-8. This year’s team lacks energy, toughness, and the youthful legs for some of the veterans and without that, the Celtics have lost their edge and ability to come away with victories late in games.
Recently, I’ve noticed that a lot of teams are not afraid of Boston anymore. The Brooklyn Nets are a prime example. After that little skirmish between Rajon Rondo and Kris Humphries, the Celtics failed to come out in the second half and throw a figurative punch back. Whether it’s their lack of toughness or the fact that the Nets might be a better team as of right now, Boston has shown no evidence that they are a title contender or even an Atlantic Division champion.
Last night’s games for both the Celtics and Lakers were not enough to convince me that they have what it takes to make it to the Finals, or very far into the playoffs. If by the end of December both teams haven’t either turned it around completely or at least find themselves 5 to 7 games above .500, then they will have to face some adversity to try getting higher seeds in their respected conferences. Both teams have the talent level to turn it around, but time is running out because San Antonio, Oklahoma City, New York, and Miami aren’t waiting, and the longer the Celtics and Lakers struggle the harder it will be to beat these teams in the playoffs.