It's only been five days, it's only been two losses, but this Boston Celtics team is clearly going to struggle to accumulate victories at a steady clip. Friday night's debacle against the Milwaukee Bucks exposed some more weaknesses in this team, mainly the idea that they are going to have a hard time closing out games.
As the Boston Red Sox showed this past season, self belief is so valuable when a team is locked in a close battle. The Celtics have entered the fourth quarter in their first two games in a position to win and contend. They lost both games. Self-belief can disappear quickly when losses start to pile up.
Now, even after two games, it is looking dire. There is not a single player that can consistently step into the role of clutch shot maker. Also, there are not enough clutch players that the defense has to focus on numerous players on the court. It's a tough situation to be in, and it begs the question: When will the Celtics win their first game? Their fifth game? Their tenth game?
Well, let's look into the crystal ball.
When will the Celtics win their first game of the season?
A quick glance at the schedule shows that the Celtics have the Detroit Pistons tonight and the Memphis Grizzlies tomorrow night. Both games are on the road against tough opponents. Those two games are probably losses, and they will probably happen in the same manner the Celtics lost their first two games: after 36 minutes of good basketball, followed by a shoddy fourth quarter.
The Utah Jazz come to Boston on Wednesday night, and this seems the most likely time for them to tally their first win. The Jazz are 0-3 as of Sunday, and they will be playing the second leg of a back-to-back on Wednesday in Boston.
There you have it, the Celtics will win their first game on Wednesday after starting 0-4.
When will the Celtics win their fifth game?
This will require some more math, foresight, and thought. The schedule is not terribly friendly. The nominees for possible Celtics wins in the month of November are: The Jazz, The Orlando Magic (2 games), Charlotte Bobcats (twice), and Portland Trail Blazers (in TDGarden). That might be three wins in that group of six games, and that might be pushing it.
Three wins, in November. That sounds like a low number. Let's assume that they steal one game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Milwaukee Bucks. That's four wins.
So, it seems like the Celtics will probably struggle to win it's fifth game before November 30th when they travel to Milwaukee. However, considering the fact that the team has competed in the first two games, Celtics 101 is going to predict that the Celtics will get their fifth win in Charlotte on November 25th. Their record after that game will be 5-11, which is about the pace most people predicted for this group.
When will the Celtics win their tenth game?
The Celtics will get out of November with five, maybe six, wins. Starting on December 3rd the Celtics play eight playoff teams during their twelve game December. That is not a good omen. The non-playoff teams are Minnesota, Cleveland, Detroit, and Washington, who coincidentally are all playoff hopefuls this season. It's going to be a long December. Potentially very long.
Let's say they win three of those 12 games. That brings them to eight wins at the New Year. Yes, it's getting depressing.
New Orleans and Toronto in the first two weeks could give the Celtics their 9th and 10th wins and hopefully Rajon Rondo will be back in the starting line-up by then. However, if things are as bad as it seems they might be, it might be a good idea for Rondo to take it easy on that knee and ensure a full and healthy recovery and that he could potentially be playing with some talented rookies following the draft and free agency next summer.
Clearly, this team has some spunk and some pride. They play hard and have shown flashes of very good play. Vitor Faverani is a bright spot and maybe the loss to the Bucks on Friday night will at least give this team the realization that they can compete with teams, and outplay them for long stretches.
Now, they just need to learn to finish.
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