Thursday night's Celtics-Knicks rematch doesn’t have us thinking about Kevin Garnett vs. Carmelo Anthony, Boston vs. New York, or Honey Nut Cheerios.
Instead, the focus is on the fading Celtics, Doc Rivers’ next motivational tactic, and well, all-bran extra fiber cereal.
The C’s are trying to end a four-game losing streak, and hope to do so at the hands of the Knicks (8 p.m., TNT).
While Boston is playing some of its worst basketball since Kevin Garnett joined the team, the second-seeded Knicks are by no means playing great either.
Since jumping out to an 18-5 start, the Knicks have gone 7-9. They have, however, recently beaten the New Orleans Hornets and Detroit Pistons – two teams the Celtics were somehow double-digit losers to over their four-game skid.
The panic out of New York City surrounding the Knicks is nowhere near the level it is in Boston with the Celtics. The C’s up-and-down play not only has fans clamoring for a trade, it has Rivers threatening that some players will have to go if things don’t change for the better.
But who’s out? Paul Pierce, the Captain? Danny Ainge couldn’t possibly trade the C’s longtime star and all-time great, could he? Kevin Garnett? He’s got a no-trade clause, and will probably retire a Celtic before ending his career anywhere else. Rajon Rondo? He’s had his ups and down, but at the end of the day the C’s don’t work without him.
Jared Sullinger and Avery Bradley look to be a big part of the C’s future, but in order to trade somebody like Jeff Green or Brandon Bass, one of them would likely have to be included to get anyone of real value back.
Is that worth it?
The bottom line is that the Celtics are underachieving. What’s worse is that they’ve lost their edge. They aren’t feared by the opposition like they once were. And why should they be based on the way they’ve played?
But there’s one silver lining in this mess, and it’s that teams like the Knicks aren’t doing anything to distance themselves from the first-half underachievers like the Celtics.
In fact, the C’s have a comfortable lead for the eighth seed in the East. That’s certainly not ideal, but it’s the second chance that Boston has in the second half of the season to get things right and build toward the postseason.
That is, if Ainge is able to wait that long.