When the Boston Celtics traded for Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday this offseason, fans expected a fresh start. Flash forward to the middle of January, and nothing has changed.
The Celtics are still exactly who we thought they were, which is a front-running team.
The concerning flaw that still exists despite the changes to the core is the inability to rise to the level needed to win in the clutch. This fatal flaw is still holding the Cs back, and it's something to monitor moving forward.
On January 19, the Celtics had a chance to show their growth in the clutch against the Denver Nuggets, the defending NBA champions. Instead, in the final five minutes, the Cs faltered, failing to match the level of the Nuggets. Despite the Celtic's hot start to the season and an NBA-best 32-10 record, they still failed to reach the level of a former champion.
It's worrisome that the Boston Celtics can't reach championship gear in the clutch
That the Celtics are still unable to reach a championship level in the clutch is concerning. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are still one step away from reaching that level. Although the best record and blowout victories are nice, these matchups with championship-caliber teams have to be ones that the Cs show signs of growth.
Every season there are mental note/checkpoint moments that can be used to gauge where a team is at. Now, I am not saying that the Celtics have no shot to win the title because they are one of the best contenders, but I don’t know if they can beat a team like the Nuggets. As of right now, I think the Celtics' flaws in the clutch could prevent them from beating the Nuggets in the NBA Finals.
Ultimately, how the Cs respond next time they are in a clutch moment with a Finals contender will be what makes this take cold -- or worse, gives it credence.