The more I think about the quotes I've been hearing from Doc Rivers, the more I'm starting to wonder if this team simply doesn't have the brightest LED lights in the store. Ok, maybe that's harsh and unfair, but what gives with all this mental talk?
Yesterday he talked about the team over-thinking the game. A while back he talked about the team being "mentally fatigued." He made a change to the playbook to essentially dumb down the defensive assignments. What gives?
This isn't really a problem that I had anticipated being an issue. We've got Rajon Rondo, who everyone believes is one of the smartest basketball minds in the game right now. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are Hall of Famers the moment they become eligible. All are capable of the occasional brain lock but that's called being human. It happens. These guys don't appear to be the problem.
Looking further down the roster, you have to wonder if some of these guys are simply having a problem processing the system that Doc has in place. In fact, the coach has said as much in so many words. It isn't like this is the Princeton offense that takes a year to master. The defensive schemes aren't all that dissimilar from those adopted by many teams around the league. We've seen players step into the Boston rotation in the past without much if any learning curve. So what's the deal with this group?
Doc has gone out of his way to praise certain guys specifically for their effort, versatility, and hard work. Obviously the group as a whole is really working hard on getting things straight. But for whatever reason, they just can't grasp it. They are thinking "what do I do next?" instead of reacting. What looks like lack of effort is actually lack of comprehension.
Rivers specifically pulled Courtney Lee aside weeks ago and told him to stop thinking so much and start reacting. He's been on Jeff Green from the start to attack and be aggressive instead of waiting for the game to come to him. Brandon Bass has taken a step back this year and he seems a bit out of sorts with what his role really is. I don't mean to pick on those guys because I'm sure there are issues elsewhere (to varying degrees) but they are the most obvious to me at least.
So when is it going to click for everyone? I suppose we have to ask if it will ever click for some of these guys. Perhaps some of them would thrive in a different system under different circumstances (and could get just that at the trade deadline). Or maybe Avery Bradley coming back and more minutes for Jared Sullinger will simply make some issues go away. (That would be too easy, don't you think?)
Hard to tell at this point but we've still got a lot of runway left on this season and it only matters how you end up, not how you start. Still, you have to have the right people running the right system to end up well. Are these guys just not capable of getting it? If so, what does that mean to the immediate future of this team?
All these questions are making me mentally fatigued.