Every year we go through something like this. It isn't exclusive to Celtics fans either. All fans of all teams of all sports have a tendency to overreact to the first few games in one way or another. But does anyone really believe that the Cavs will be a sub-.500 team or that Houston will go undefeated? First impressions aren't always the most telling for an NBA season. Ask the Sixers from last year.
Don't get me wrong, I found a lot to be happy about in game one and the second half of the Mavericks game. Just like there was a lot that went wrong against the Rockets (admittedly a very good team this season) and there's a reason why the C's were down 31 points in the first half.
I don't even know what to make of the Raptors game. You know about Rondo's triple double but did you know that 6 players scored in double figures and that Sullinger and Olynyk both had double doubles? Ok, but maybe you did, but did you know that the rebounding differential was +31 for the Celtics, which is the best rebounding game for the Celtics ever (or at least since they started keeping those stats in 1985)? And they still LOST? (Hat tip to Sean Grande for that morsel) The 27 turnovers didn't exactly help that cause, but I don't think that's going to be a regular occurrence either.
What is going on with this team? Is this team the lottery losers that so many in the media predicted? Or could it be the Eastern version of the Suns from last season? Or is it just a plucky, scrappy, never-give-up team with tons of potential but not enough consistent results? We just don't know yet, and that's ok.
Every year is slightly different but I generally like to promote a "20 game rule" which isn't so much a rule as it is a recommendation or guideline. 4 or 5 games isn't enough of a sample size to make up your mind about a team and the season that they are having. Waiting till half the games are over isn't exactly practical though. So 20 games out of 82 seems like a good enough cutting off point. By then we'll know a lot more about the makeup of this team.
Don't get me wrong, I'll have some fun jumping on the Jump to Conclusions Mat with the rest of you. (Rondo is BACK! Sullinger is going to average a double-double! Jeff Green is Mr. Consistent! Evan Turner is terrible!) I'm just not going to put a whole lot of stock into any of it.
This is a young team and there will be nights when they look like world beaters and nights when they look like the world has crushed them into powder. Marcus Smart is already flashing signs of future amazing potential. Three of our starters have a PER over 20. Yet the team sits at 1-3 near the bottom of the standings and it isn't clear if they'll stay there the rest of the season or not.
My best advice is to sit back and enjoy the ride for a little bit. The roller coaster ride can be a lot of fun. The ups and downs and hairpin turns sometimes make you nauseous, but by the end of the ride you're always excited to get back in line for another spin.
Game 20 is on December 10 against the Charlotte Hornets. By then we'll have played the Sixers and the depleted Pacers and Thunder. We'll also have played the Cavs, Bulls (twice), and the Spurs. That should be a good enough sample size to really know what this team is all about.