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Boston, We Have a Problem

Anyone who says that there was no Celtics offense in tonight's loss to the Memphis Grizzlies clearly did not watch close enough. That game was downright offensive from start to finish.

Actually, to call this a game would be a disservice to every member of the Grizzlies. This was an onslaught from the get-go. The Celtics never lead in this game once. With 5:52 left in the first quarter, the Celtics trailed 11-7. That would be the closest they got the rest of the game, as the Grizzlies then went on 16-5 run and lead by 15 at the end of the first quarter. The Celtics never got closer than 14 points behind and trailed by as many as 29 points late in the fourth quarter.

"I think it speaks for itself," said Kevin Garnett who finished with a dismal six points and seven rebounds. "They came in and just totally annihilated us, nothing to it."

Perhaps that is the scariest part about it. There really was nothing to it. The Grizzlies came in and disrobed the Celtics on their home court. Fitting actually, because with the way the team has been performing lately no player deserves to wear that jersey.

Boos from the fans drained out the sound of the halftime buzzer. It was hard to tell if fans were getting out of their seats for halftime, or leaving the game altogether. Unlike Sunday's game against the Wizards, the earlier they got out of there, the luckier they were. With more than nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the remaining victims in the stands decided to head for the exits. If it wasn't for the fact that the arena was 90% empty by the time the game ended, the boos from the fans would have been much louder.

"It pisses me off," said Ray Allen who scored 17 points but went 0-6 from behind the arc. "I want to do the best job that I know how for anybody coming to watch. It's a lot of people's first time in the building. So performance wise you want to do everything you can to show people enjoyment."

"You come out on your home court and get this kind of loss and get booed by your home court," said Paul Pierce on a night where he went a meager 4-8 from the field . "I haven't been on a court where we've been booed; it's been a couple times this year. It's been about five or six years since I've seen that. We're still 17 games over .500. All the fans want is a constant effort night in and night out. I think we got to be more consistent with that regardless if we win or lose."

Consistent effort would be nice, yes. Where's the attitude? The swagger? Have we lost our mojo? And if so, how do we get it back? Can we get it back? Those are a lot of questions, but unfortunately when games like these are over we are left with more questions than after an episode of Lost.

This team has lost its identity, that's for sure. What started out as a team that some actually thought could challenge the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls' 72-10 record has become a team that can, and has, lost to some of the worst teams in the league in convincing fashion. The "having a good road record" argument is weak when you consider the teams they have beaten on the road.

The obvious issue is one that has to do with age. This team is centered around seasoned veterans. While Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins are young, the utilization of their youth is hindered by the style of play that the Celtics implore when grouped with the veterans. That has been apparent all season, and was just as apparent tonight. The average age of the Celtics is 29 years old. No Grizzlies player, aside from Jamaal Tinsley who didn't play tonight, is 29 years old.

"It hurts us when you give them spirit; there's no doubt about that," said Coach Doc Rivers. "We're not going to get any quicker, and you know when you give an athletic team that's skilled- I mean, they're a skilled athletic team- when you give that team confidence, with the way we're constructed, it makes it difficult."

Rasheed Wallace made a puzzling statement after the loss to Memphis.

"We step up more on big games, but on teams where they're struggling or there might be some teams that are not making the playoffs, you know, I think some times we maybe have the tendency to disrespect them a little bit."

Um, what? Which big games is he talking about? Maybe he's talking about the wins over Atlanta this season. Or it could be the big wins at home against the Cavaliers, Magic, and Lakers. As far as disrespecting the non-contenders, that argument holds no water. If anything, teams are coming in here and disrespecting the Celtics.

"There's a lot of teams that haven't been there, Wallace continued. "This team has been there. No matter where we're coming from. Mike from San Antonio, me from Detroit, the guys here who won it already. I think once them big boy shots come we'll be ready."

The author is unknown, but there is a quote that states, "If you are still talking about what you did yesterday, you haven't done much today."

The Celtics can't simply rely on playoff or Finals "experience" to win another championship. It wasn't that experience that got them a ring two seasons ago. It was willingness to do whatever it took to win, by as many points as possible. To say that a lot of teams haven't been there is false. Been where? The playoffs? Last I checked many of the contenders this year were contenders last year- they've been there.

We do have the experience, we do have the skill, but do we have the will? Often times it is the team that wants it more, or needs it more, that takes it. That was evident in 2007-08, but has yet to be seen this season.

All we can do at this point is take them at their word. But if they want to be top dog they'll have to eventually stop barking and actually prove it on the court.

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