Blakely: Celtics Might Not Get Out Of First Round

The Celtics have the talent to reach the NBA Finals; the chemistry, however, is a different story

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January 16, 2019 - 9:07 am

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After pushing LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to Game 7 of the NBA Finals last year, the Boston Celtics were heavy favorites to reach the NBA Finals this season.

Well, they have not played like an NBA Finals team. They are 25-18 and the 5-seed in the East.

“They’ve lost some games that, frankly, they just had no business losing,” NBC Sports Boston Celtics analyst A. Sherrod Blakely said on Ferrall on the Bench. “They’ve had a number of mind-blowing losses. They have lost 13 games on the road this year; they only 13 road games all of last season. So for them, there’s struggles on the road, there’s inconsistency within their core group, and you’re having way too many meetings and conversations about playing better. It’s one thing to have those every now and then, but it seems like the last week-and-a-half, it seems like every couple of days they’re having another player talking about what we need to do to get better. They got to get past the talking and get back to walk – and the walk is finding ways to win games.”

Kyrie Irving leads the team with 22.7 points and 6.4 assists per game, but he’s been frustrated with teammates Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

“He sees the talent,” Blakely said. “The issue that he has more than anything else is they’re not doing it consistently. Tatum is one of the bright stars in the league, and he has not played with the consistency that a lot of us thought he would after just a really, really good finish to the playoffs last year. Jaylen Brown, same thing. He hasn’t been nearly as good on both ends of the floor. That’s where Kyrie’s frustration comes from.”

Then again, perhaps inconsistency should be expected from Tatum and Brown, who are 20 and 22, respectively. 

“You’re asking them to do what is damn near mission impossible: be a young player, develop your game, establish your value and your worth in the league – while at the same time sacrificing some of that in order to win games,” Blakely said. “That’s a lot to ask of a 21-, 22-year-old. People like to compare them to the old Big Three in Boston where you had Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Those guys were perennial All-Stars when they came together. So for them, sacrificing was no big deal because they had already proven their worth. Tatum, Brown – different story.”

The Celtics are seven games behind the Raptors (33-12) for the top seed in the East. They’re by no means out of it, but they need to turn things around in a hurry if they hope to reach the NBA Finals. 

“They may not even get out of the first round of the playoffs,” Blakely said. “Forget about the Finals. This team, talent-wise, there’s no question they’re good enough to get there. But this Celtics team has been underachieving in every sense of the word. Plain and simple, they have to be better than they are. They have to start playing closer to their potential. Otherwise, this season is going to be over way sooner than they thought.”