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Sad mailbag answers to your frustrated questions

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I don’t have any good answers for this Boston Celtics team, just sad ones.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

For the purposes of this mailbag, I focused solely on the questions about the rest of the regular season and playoffs. We’ll leave the offseason till later.

Kubers: Do we change the starters in the remaining games?

The pat answer is to keep things as they are. But is there an argument for returning Hayward and Brown to the starting line-up, and giving that 5 time to gel? Plus moving back Smart to run the ball with the bench (Rozier just can’t run point), and letting Mook be the primary scorer with that unit (he’s cooled off from his hot start).

In the end it may not matter all that much, as Brad has shown he’ll finish with whoever’s playing well.

Jeff: I kind of like the idea of making a change just to shake things up, but it is hard to take Smart or Morris out of the starting lineup when they’ve been so solid from day one and the guys that might replace them have not been consistent enough. I like Brown a lot but he still makes bad decisions on the court. I am pulling for Hayward but he’s not consistently good. Once Baynes is back I could see Stevens starting him and Horford together I guess, but that’s also not ideal against all matchups. So I don’t know. It may just have to wait till the postseason and depend on matchups.

shadow973: Are Kyrie and Hayward enough to lead us to the Finals and take GSW to Game 7?

I mean, Tatum and Brown came within mere minutes of a finals appearance last year. With our two All-Star veterans back and healthy, and Kyrie declaring ‘I am here’, anything short of a Finals would be a huge disappointment.

Jeff: It appears as if you’ve missed the entire regular season thus far. I envy you and I have some bad news...

Blue Steel: Is Jaylen Brown a cancer on this team?

[insert obligatory statement] With all the locker room grumblings that have leaked out, I really can’t imagine the culprit being anyone other than Brown or possibly Rosier. Morris would have been the obvious guess, but I doubt Stevens would put up with him, much less keep him in the SL if he is. Every time I see Brown on the bench – or in general – his body language and facial expressions just… stink.

Jeff: I would not presume to know the interpersonal dynamics between these guys. I think it is dangerous to presume too much based on body language and it is unfair to single out one or two guys that you think could be a “cancer.” Everyone is frustrated with the losing and it shows. There’s something not right with this team but I don’t think you can pin it on any one or two people. That’s called scapegoating.

StrengthIN#S: Question on the Celtics fan base

Who’s right? Those who believe the team is better with Kyrie or those that believe the team is better without him? Given a hypothetical situation where Kyrie is injured again and misses the post season. Do you think that team makes it as far as they did last year in a much improved Eastern Conferance?

Or are you tired of talking about this?

Jeff: I’ll go a step further. Does it really even matter at this point? Kyrie Irving is the best player on this team and there’s no way a healthy Irving is not on the court for the most critical moments the rest of this season. There’s no way that the team will not make every effort to bring him back. If he walks away, we’ll surely be able to see up close and personal how good or bad this team is without him.

Ancient Red: Have we really overvalued this team?

We have basically the same players all around with one skill set…. So where the lunch pale gang type of players …..Say what you want but you are missing a Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley and a Jonas Jerebko type of players to come and cause problems for the other team. Even better we need a Patrick Beverly on our team or Andre Drummond.

Do you feel we have too many players with the same type of skills as well?

Jeff: Yes, I think it is safe to say that we overestimated this team. Perhaps a few more scrappy players would have helped, but last season’s team seemed full of them. Not sure what happened.

George Silveira: Do you think all the fans + media are overreacting to the Celtic’s record?

Does everybody forget that their record could’ve been much worse last year if luck had shifted against them. They had so many late game comeback and close wins last year that they could have finished the year at something like 45-37ish last year. The bad losses this year are really really bad but come playoff time the only team I am afraid of in the eastern conference is the Bucks, cause of Giannis.

Jeff: I think the perceived value of this team was inflated by their success last season. I still think (hope?) that they are better than they’ve played lately, but I can’t rule out an epic collapse either.

PatsFan1979: Why doesn’t Brad get the level of blame he deserves for this season?

Kyrie gets blame (and deservedly so to a certain extent), Rozier and Brown get blame, Morris and Smart get blame; hell Ainge even gets a bit of blame (I’d argue for a higher share of blame given the organization leaks more than the Titanic anytime a trade is being considered, as well as for not moving on from Rozier when his value was peaking). Yet Brad largely rides above it all with the exception of a passing phrase here or there, despite:

1. He coaches like an elementary school coach scared of making his players’ parents angry…everyone doesn’t need to play in every game! This rotational rigidity means

2. Players who are playing well or shooting hot get iced, and/or players playing poorly drag the team down. This is the driving force behind this season’s roller coaster ride because players know

3. They’re not going to get more run for strong play, or be held accountable for poor play. This is why we see sporadic efforts from most players against all but the top tier teams. Also, if I hear the phrase

4. ”Basketball gods” once more I’ll vomit. If you don’t want to blame the players take it yourself Brad, but enough with the aww shucks, hands in the air, “I don’t know what went wrong” so I’ll blame fictional characters act.

I blame Brad almost entirely for the poor beginning of the year, due to his decision to start a visibly hobbled Hayward over youngsters who went to the ECF. He’s never seen a Jaylen hot start he wasn’t willing to ice. Baynes has been out seemingly forever and yet we can’t get minutes for TimeLord. “But he doesn’t know his positioning/have a strong BBIQ yet” cry the Brad supporters; well if we’re going to drop games to the likes of the Bulls without him why not get him some valuable run so he can start to learn that stuff?

I think Brad is a smart guy, a really good college coach and a guy who can maximize talents when there’s not a large pool on the team. I am becoming increasingly convinced he is not the leader a true Finals contender needs, and hope he is (at a minimum) on a scorching-hot seat if this team doesn’t at least make the ECF. Hope to hear your answer!

Jeff: (This seems like one of those “questions” where it is really more of a statement, and that’s ok.) Yup, he deserves some share of the blame. I still think he’s a good/great coach, but something ain’t working. The message ain’t getting through. Some of that is on the players but some of it has to go back on the coach as well.