This is the way I see it....
As many have said, the Cs' problems are age-related..... the core-and-then-some of this team is populated with players all in their 30s (or in Wilcox's case, very close it):
Allen (36), Daniels (31), Dooling (31), Garnett (35), O'Neal (33 & body almost shot), Pierce (34), Pietrus (30), Wilcox (29).
But it's not that they CAN'T do it anymore. It's that they choose not to. And, believe it or not, with good reason. Good enough to make it almost inevitable.
Now you and I, as fans, care a lot about getting another banner. Management and owners care a lot too, because they know that the more successful this team is, the more successful the business is. The two are inextricably linked, so of course they're highly motivated. It's not just their livelihood, it's their lives and their families' lives on the line.
But the players? Those guys in the list above? Why, exactly, should they care about another championship? Pride? Sure, pride would be a reason. Duty? Well... maybe. But this is ENTERTAINMENT, after all... not exactly life and death. So no, duty's not good enough. And that exhausts my list of motivations for these players.
Of course, the YOUNGER players are HIGHLY motivated... they haven't hit their big paydays yet. To get there, they MUST perform. They know it, and that's why they're hungry, active, trying their best.
All this is pretty obvious, I know... but maybe not to many fans, because we do tend to get caught up in the emotion of it all.
Now back to the older players... Do you really believe that Kevin Garnett, the man, hasn't got more important things to think about than whether or not the Celtics lose to the Pistons? I don't. I KNOW it's not high on his list of life goals. And if that's true of KG, you can bet your bottom dollar it's true about virtually everyone else on that list.
I.e., it all comes down to real life and money.
So when our guys are faced with fighting off one more group of hungry youngsters scampering all up and down their shorts to win ONE MORE regular season game.... how do they get up for that? Yeah, they COULD fight harder, because their bodies are still capable, and we've seen that.... but why bother? Why subject your body to the pain of it all AGAIN? When you know your money is in the bank, and you're getting paid more of it regardless of how you perform.
And that brings us to the crux of the problem we are now facing in Boston. Too many old guys who don't care. And they don't care because THE ENTIRE FINANCIAL SYSTEM OF THE NBA IS A TRAVESTY OF NORMAL CAPITALISM.
Normally, capitalist principles call for the provider of a product (or service) to be paid in accordance with the market-determined value of that delivered product. If what you produce is lousy, you get paid little or nothing for it. If your product is great, you get paid more. It's simple, and it works.
But the NBA is not build that way. Guys are paid in accordance with long-term contracts REGARDLESS of the quality of the product (play) they produce. Now, it is true that so long as a player has another contract to earn, he will at least be motivated to provide a decent-looking product, in order to get that next deal. But the guys who are at or near the ends of their careers have NO MOTIVATION WHATSOEVER, under capitalist principles. Only their pride could motivate them.
And frankly, it's a lot easier to mail it in when there's only pride on the line... ESPECIALLY in this year's extremely brutal schedule. And ESPECIALLY after that long and bitter lockout over...... money.
And so... from all this you get.... The 2011-12 Boston Celtics. Welcome to Beantown, home of the overpaid, self-satisfied, unmotivated professional basketball player.
This is not going to change anytime soon. It's all part of the price this city paid for the Big Three and the 2008 championship.
And it will keep repeating in the NBA forever, until and unless player pay becomes more directly tied to performance. You know.... the way capitalism is actually supposed to work.