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Boston Celtics Stumble into a Holiday Vacation with More Questions than Answers

December 23rd, 2013 at 8:46 AM
By Sean Melia

The Boston Celtics dropped their third straight game on Sunday when they lost to the Indiana Pacers in one of the few laughers the team has been a part of this season. The other two losses last week were the result of tough fourth quarters and the opponents hitting some big shots. 

'greg monroe jared sullinger' photo (c) 2013, Marissa Gawel - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Now, the team has some time off. They do not play a game until next Saturday when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers. During the time off some questions will begin to creep up about this team's ability to challenge for a playoff spot. Or win a series. The Pacers are the top team in the Eastern Conference and they manhandled the Celtics on Sunday. The Celtics offense could not get anything going. Truthfully, the offense struggled all weekend other than the first quarter against the Washington Wizards. 

The Celtics' winning percentage of .414 means that they would win 33 games this season. At the start of the year, that would have seemed high to a lot of people. Vegas had their over/under at 27 wins. The scary part is the teams below the Celtics do not seem terribly primed for a lot of wins in the final 4 months of the season.

The Celtics are no longer first in the Atlantic Division, they are the 8th seed in the East. This is what it looks like below the Celtics in the standings:

Team                                                                    W         L          GB

Boston Celtics1217-
Chicago Bulls1016.5
Cleveland Cavaliers1016.5
Brooklyn Nets9171.5
New York Knicks8182.5
Orlando Magic8193
Philadelphia 76ers8203.5
Milwaukee Bucks6215

So who are the candidates to jump over the Celtics? It's tough to say, right? The Bulls are slowly sinking. They are 3-7 in their last ten. They are horrid on the road with a record of 3-11. Derrick Rose is hurt. Tom Thibideau is unhappy, and they are trying to figure out if they should be trading in order to get into the lottery and restart. 

The Cavs do not seem to have anything going at all. They are another awful road team, sitting at 2-12 on the road. If they can get some value back for Dion Waiters, they could be a possible team to jump the Celtics. 

The Nets and Knicks are both a total mess. The Nets lost their second best player, and most dependable big man, when Brook Lopez broke his foot. They are pretty much stuck with the roster they have. 

The Knicks are simply a mess. They have no idea what they are doing and Mike Woodson might be unemployed very soon. 

The Magic, Sixers, and Bucks are in full fledged "get into the lottery mode" and will only get worse. They are no threat to catch the Celtics. 

This is the toughest part about where the Celtics are right now. They have played their way into playoff contention, and now it will be a sticky situation getting themselves out of that predicament (we realize how ridiculous that sentence is). The Toronto Raptors sit above the Celtics in the Atlantic Division, however, they have also shown they are not afraid to make trades that will weaken their roster this season in order to get into the lottery.

Rajon Rondo also said that January does not seem like a good deadline for his return to the team. Putting his return even closer to the trade deadline, which will make it even more difficult for Danny Ainge to decide whether that top spot in the Atlantic Division or an 8th seed is worth making a run for. 

So, the Celtics enter this mini-respite in December at 12-17, having lost three straight games, still missing their best player (who will not return for at least another five weeks), and seemingly looking like they will be stuck in purgatory unless they make a drastic change for better or worse. 

So much for Happy Holidays. 

Tags: Atlantic Division, Basketball, Boston, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA, new york knicks, Rajon Rondo

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