Everyone back here in Boston is trying to figure out what is wrong with the Celtics. Clearly, when you're 30-6 there isn't much room for complaining. But, the way they have lost lately has many concerned. The Celtics have scored 83, 86, 78, and 83, in their last four games. Point guard Rajon Rondo has been injured, and has been playing hurt. They were already thin at the point-guard position, and many believe that's the reason for Boston's struggles.
WED. MORNING UPDATE (11:42 AM ET)--- Rajon Rondo has been ruled OUT for tonight's game. Sore back, the reason why. He was listed as 50-50 last night, but following Celtics shootaround this morning, the announcement was made.
Outlaw, for one, explained that a female fan in a visiting arena walked up to him after a game this season, held out a program and a pen for his autograph and said, "You're my favorite player, Charles."
"Who's Charles?" Outlaw said.
"My name's Travis."
"Well, you're my favorite player, Travis."
The same night, on the ESPN scroll, the worldwide leader made the same error. And now, it seems, everyone is busy mixing up LeBron and LaMarcus, creating "LeMarcus." And the Portland franchise is getting esteem, sure, but what we really have here is a classic difference between esteem and respect.
But lost in Portland's fantastic achievement is one even more impressive than winning 13 games in a row, one which people who follow the Blazers closely may already know but many outside the City of Roses may not have realized. It's a rare feat, one that puts one member of the team in an exclusive company.
So exclusive only six in the same position have ever done better, and only two have matched it. This exclusive company of nine has to do with the number 17 – as in, 17 games in a row.
Who is it? Head coach Nate McMillan. It may be due simply to the way life goes and dealing with the cards dealt, but McMillan did win 17 straight games as the head coach of the Trail Blazers. The game ending the winning streak at 13, the loss in Utah, was one McMillan had to miss due to a death in the family. He returned the next game and Portland rattled off four more wins before falling in double-overtime to the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.
The Celtics have become increasingly vulnerable to quick, athletic opponents, and the young Trail Blazers thrive on that kind of style. Should Rondo not play, the Celtics will be especially challenged to get into their offense.
A matchup against a team in the West seems to give the Celtics a good chance to avoid their first three-game losing streak since a seven-game skid last April. They are 10-0 versus the West this season.
Boston, though, will need to break out of its slump on offense, especially against a Portland team that allows 95.5 points per game. The Celtics are averaging 99.1 points per game on the season, but have posted just 82.5 over their last four contests.
``As much as we preach defense, offensively I think we've hit a little snag,'' Boston guard Ray Allen said. ``We do have to score more points. We're capable of scoring 100-plus points per night, and right now we're not doing that.''