Regarding the calls coming from various quarters for the Celtics to take their recent couple of losses as a "wake-up call", a response: Don't hold your breath. These guys have been getting this exact lesson for over 2 years now, dozens of times a year. And they keep hitting the snooze button.
A few months ago, they 'snoozed' right through game 6 of the Finals -- the FINALS, mind you!! -- and then were surprised and reportedly reduced to tears when they discovered that Gee, you can't really ever be certain of the outcome of any single NBA game. As if that was news to them.
Well... there is an inescapable conclusion to be reached here: It is IMPOSSIBLE for the Celtics to have missed the point of all the many lessons they've had since the Big 3 came to town. These are not infants. And they are not insane. And since those two explanations do not apply, it's clear that the Celtics must KNOW that they cannot win NBA games by merely showing up.
Given that truth -- something else must be going on. We are all free to opine/guess as to what that 'something else' might be. My feeling is that there are two scenarios:
(1) Sometimes they're just tired and/or lazy and/or overconfident. I.e., the simple explanation. "It happens." Can't be up for every one of the 82 games crammed into the ridiculously overlong NBA schedule. Yeah, they know it's their job to perform for our viewing pleasure... and sometimes they just don't do their jobs very well.
(2) But other times... it's the refs' fault. The Cs know, by one means or another, when a particular game is marked by the ref(s) against them. Such games typically occur versus 'bad' teams... where the odds are heavily in the Cs' favor (of course). When they see that the fix is in (via 1 or more refs), and realize that it would take a near-superhuman effort to try to win... they give up and coast to the inevitable loss rather than tilt at the league's windmills. After all, their eyes are on the bigger picture... the millions of dollars they all earn in this wonderful job they have. No rocking the boat! Refs want you to lose, you lose, and shut up about it. (Latest example: the Thunder game.)
Of course, somebody is getting ripped off.
Who? Well...... that would be you, of course. And me. And all the other fans of this, the worst-run sports league in America (...which, sadly, controls the best game, imo).