On this episode of Green With Envy, hosts Will Weir and Greg Maneikis take a look at some theories as to why the Celtics are struggling (0:00-15:00). Then, they explore the social media narrative that the Celtics need a trade (15:00-25:00). Finally, they dive deep into the debate of who is the more deserving MVP candidate at this point in the season: Luka Doncic or Jayson Tatum?
Theories are running wild as to who or what is to blame for the Celtics’ recent struggles. Most people are blaming interim head coach Joe Mazzulla. Others are blaming Jaylen Brown. Some are ready to trade half the roster. And this recent play has crushed our spirits about a squad that still has the best record in the entire league. Most teams would be lining up to trade positions with the C’s, but right now, things don’t feel good in Celtics Nation. I do, however, have a simple theory about all of this, and it has helped me better understand why so many people are in an uproar over games like the recent debacle versus the Thunder.
At the beginning of the season, we as a fan base wanted to believe there was this huge AHA! moment after the NBA Finals that had transformed these guys into different players. The media asked about it, the players answered it. This summer, Jayson Tatum didn’t talk to anyone for weeks and when he finally came out of hibernation, his trainer, Drew Hanlen, pummeled him with stones as Tatum drove the ball to the basket over and over again. Jaylen Brown decided to live underwater. Derrick White reworked his shot. All of those preseason narratives fit so nicely with what we hoped would happen.
Then, the team began the season historically on fire which confirmed that hope, which subsequently, turned into a belief: the Celtics had jumped over that metaphysical barrier and were a new, improved version of themselves. More mature. More seasoned. However, the probable reality is that they are still more or less the same guys who made some minor improvements to their games.
Yes, Tatum has improved his finishing around the rim and gets to the charity stripe whenever he wants. Yes, Jaylen Brown looks like his knee issues are a thing of the past. He’s back to dunking on heads like flattop JB. Yes, Derrick White’s shooting numbers have improved, and his form does look a bit more consistent. The list goes on and on, but the reality is, the Celtics, who we hoped would be historically great, are just a really good basketball team. Really good basketball teams can still win the NBA Finals. However, really good basketball teams also completely no-show in some regular season games. It’s frustrating and quite frankly annoying for those of us who live and breathe with every minute of Celtics basketball, but once you wrap your head around this reality, it’s a bit easier to swallow.
Hopefully the Celtics bounce back tonight against the Mavs. Their 8-1 record in nationally televised games suggests they will. Jayson Tatum’s 31.8 - 8.6 - 4.7 numbers in these marquee matchups suggest he’ll play at an MVP level.
But the truth is, these are just narratives we fans like to buy into. Tatum might play horribly. The Celtics might lose again. But at the end of the day, this team - when they are firing on all cylinders - is one of the league’s best and a favorite to bring home Banner 18.
Tune into this episode for more theories about the Celtics’ struggles, and an extended conversation surrounding tonight’s clash of MVP candidates. Also, be sure to follow the guys on social media @greenenvypod.