Three Reasons Behind the Celtics Recent Struggle

The past five games have been rough to watch due to the Celtics’ struggles

The Boston Celtics ended their four game losing streak with a win last night against the Sixers at Philadelphia. After Jae Crowder’s injury they are not the same team they were and are still trying to find their rhythm, both offensively and defensively. Head coach Brad Stevens is looking for best solution for the Celtics, who are now sitting at a 40-30 and want to make a final push towards home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Here are some of the main reasons behind their latest subpar performances.

1. Lost in rotation: Jae Crowder has been in the staring lineup for all of his 66 games this season, as he is considered one of the integral parts of the Celtics’ success. With his absence, Brad Stevens has to start another guy at the small forward position and that effects the team’s rotation.

Marcus Smart and Evan Turner are the guys who have started at small forward the last five games. The problem with either of these two being in the starting five is the impact in the Celtics’ second unit.

With Smart coming from the bench, the Celtics can bring into the game a high energy guy who can act great as a backup guard. He matches equally well with either Isaiah Thomas or Avery Bradley.

Turner on the other hand is the leading scorer of the second unit and the one who can enter the floor and produce instant scoring with his characteristic plays, usually mid range shots or post-ups against smaller guards. With either of them in the staring five, the Celtics’ bench loses some of its efficiency and productivity

2. Floor spacing: One of the most important aspects in today’s game is floor spacing. Players who can spread the floor are vital to their teams, not only for their ability to knock down jumpers, but also to create the space for their teammates to attack the basket. Moving the ball around quickly and putting the players in the most favorable positions for them to score is of great importance and at the same time very difficult.

The Celtics although are not shooting very well from the three-point line, they still attempt many threes during a game as this is a basic part of their offense. Jae Crowder is a guy who can spread the floor, as he is shooting almost five three-pointers per game, with a 35 percent three-point percentage. It is not a coincidence that during the last games, the Celtics missed not only Crowder but also Jonas Jerebko (40.9 percent from three), while Kelly Olynyk (39.5 percent) has just come back from injury.

3. Defensive intensity: Let’s take a look at some stats of the first 65 games of the season compared to the last five:

First 65 games
DefRtg: 100.7
Opp FG%: 43.9%
Opp 3P%: 33.0%
Opp TOV: 16.5
Opp PTS: 102.4

Last 5 games
DefRtg: 108.0
Opp FG%: 46.2%
Opp 3P%: 37.1 %
Opp TOV: 13.8
Opp PTS: 109.0

It is quite obvious that the defensive intensity is not at the same level as before. Again, Crowder’s absence plays a big role in that too, because of his great defensive skills. It’s not only what he offers with his physical tools while on the court, it is also the guidance that he gives to his teammates when playing team defense.

The Boston Celtics have no other choice than to keep competing every game, every possession, and every play. Brad Stevens is the one who has to make his adjustments and judging from his recent past, it’s more likely he will manage to come over the top of this. It’s perhaps the worst time for a team to miss such a critical player, while they try to make the final run for a better spot in the post-season, but at least let’s hope that all Celtics will be healthy for the playoffs.