Celtics achieve consistent inconsistency

Alan Greenwood

For at least one bewildered soul, trying to decipher exactly what is wrong with the Celtics is beyond baffling.

It is like trying to find your inner Red Auerbach and dredging up your inner Rick Pitino.

It is like putting a jigsaw puzzle through the washer and dryer, piling that small mountain of tattered cardboard on the floor and turning it all into the Old Man of the Mountain.

It is a moving target. One night, they are moving without the ball, making passes that embarrass the opposition and going to the basket with abandon. The next night, they line up around the 3-point line and the first open man fires away.

One night, they play defense – as in staying with a man, pestering him and actually forcing a turnover or two. The next night, they seem to be reserving their energy for lining up around the 3-point line.

They continue lacking a productive inside game and are easily out-rebounded by teams with limited abilities that are willing to hit the boards and throw a well-timed elbow.

The Celtics have set their cruise control and are doing an amazing imitation of a club that is content with third place in the NBA’s Atlantic Division.

Clearly we all set the bar way too high as the season began – as did the players themselves. They conceded themselves the Eastern Conference title and began looking ahead to a seven-game series against the Warriors before Brad Stevens rolled out the first basketball.

It’s no longer early in the season. Getting Aron Baynes back will not cure their ills, though he is more than willing to mix it up in the paint. And relying on a trade-deadline upgrade is always a dicey proposition.

Danny Ainge and Stevens are far better equipped than any of us at dissecting the problems and solving them. If they aren’t, they can join our fellowship of the bewildered.

TIME TRAVEL: Jan. 3, 1959 – “Exploding with a powerful offensive that resulted in four of the five men hitting for double figures, the Purple courtmen of Nashua High overwhelmed Fitchburg High 61-52 before a capacity audience last night at the Elm Street gym.

“Stealing the scoring show were Nick Mandravelis and Al Briggs, each with 15 points, while Dick Kierstead came up with 11 and Jerry Fuller contributing 10 to the winning cause.”

NO GOATS ALLOWED: The next time someone asks why LeBron James is widely considered an incredibly talented jackass, the answer comes from a 2009 interview of Michael Jordan by Michael Wilbon. The clip has been getting lots of online attention since James’ latest self-assessment as the Greatest of All Time.

Jordan made the fundamental point that judging him against the greats from an earlier era is not only futile but disrespectful.

“When I hear it, I cringe a little bit because it’s a little bit embarrassing because no one knows. I never had the chance to … play against those guys. I would love to have played against them but I never did.”

Jordan cited Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain as legends he’d have loved to challenge.

He should have tossed Bill Russell into the conversation, but at least his heart is in the right place.

Alan Greenwood can be reached at 594-1248, agreenwood @nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_ AlanG.