Here are five things that went wrong for the Celtics this season:
1) Paul Pierce suffering a near stress fracture in his left foot shortly before the Celtics departed for their first major trip west tops the list of what went wrong for the Celtics this season. Anytime a team loses its most valuable player, not to mention its leading scorer and rebounder (at the time of his injury) for seven weeks, there will be dire consequences. The Celtics went 2-22 without Pierce in the lineup.
2) Because the list is long, the injuries and illnesses of other players besides Pierce should be a separate category. From Delonte West to Al Jefferson to Theo Ratliff to Tony Allen to Wally Szczerbiak, the Celtics never had much of a chance to establish team chemistry because injuries created a revolving door or available players and necessitated several unplanned changes in the starting lineup.
3) With the easiest schedule in the NBA to start the season and as healthy as they would be all season, the Celtics managed to compile only a 10-14 record before Pierce went down. A young team like the Celtics needed to start the season strong, primarily for building confidence. Once the Celtics stumbled at the start, they were playing catchup as their schedule became increasingly difficult, which can be tough mentally for a young team.
4) The franchise-record 18-game losing streak is an obvious for this list. But more than the fact Boston went more than a month without a win, it was the toll all the losing took on the team psyche. Again, with a young team, confidence plummeted. There were times when the Celtics seem to think they wouldn’t win another game the rest of the season and worried about setting an NBA record for consecutive losses. Beyond that, the losing streak stirred talk of the draft lottery, Greg Oden and Kevin Durant, which did not help matter or sit well with the current players.
5) And let’s face it, from a purely karmic standpoint, the introduction of the Celtic dance team days after Red Auerbach’s death did not bode well for the rest of the season.