Celtics’ future might not be so bright after all





The Lakers were the least modest about flirting with the Pelicans over Anthony Davis this winter, but L.A. wasn’t the only franchise sticking a “for sale” sign on half its roster. The Celtics essentially did the same thing, albeit with postdated vouchers that don’t take effect until this summer.

While the Lakers draw scrutiny about whether their machinations have destroyed team chemistry heading into the stretch run, it’s worth wondering if that might also be true for the Celtics.

Boston’s record isn’t as bad as L.A.’s since the rumors started — the C’s actually had a five-game win streak in the immediate aftermath of Davis’ trade request — but that’s not the right way to measure these things. The Celtics have seemed straight-up miserable and dysfunctional lately, perhaps owing more to Kyrie Irving’s erratic comments on his own free agency plans.

Tuesday’s blowout loss to the Raptors was another example of a team that seems not like it’s coming unglued, but a squad that was never together in the first place. The talent base of the team is supreme — just ask Boston fans themselves — but the mix is still not working, 60 games into the season. Unlike the Lakers, Boston is at no risk of missing the playoffs, but a tough first-round series without home court advantage could spell an early exit. If not, a second round sweep at the hands of the Bucks could be on deck.

What if the Celtics get ejected early, lose the bidding for Davis in June, lose Kyrie in July, and are left with the rubble and a reset? The doom in Boston isn’t quite as dramatic as the Lakers’ apocalypse … yet. But in time, it could be.

Scores

Magic 103, Knicks 108
Celtics 95, Raptors 118
Thunder 112, Nuggets 121

Schedule

All times Eastern. Games on League Pass unless otherwise noted.

Rockets at Hornets, 7
Timberwolves at Hawks, 7:30
Wizards at Nets, 7:30
Warriors at Heat, 7:30
Blazers at Celtics, 8, ESPN
Bulls at Grizzlies, 8
Pistons at Spurs, 8:30
Pacers at Mavericks, 8:30
Clippers at Jazz, 9
Bucks at Kings, 10
Pelicans at Lakers, 10:30, ESPN

Links

Paul Flannery goes deep on the Raptors’ chances to be a real, legit title contender once the postseason starts. Toronto has all of the ingredients on paper, but the recipe just feels like it might be missing something. Is it?

There are seven teams who could be the Warriors’ foe in the first round, most likely as the No. 8 seed assuming Golden State traipses into the No. 1 seed. I ranked them in order of who the Warriors would prefer to meet.

A couple nights ago, Doc Rivers did the absolute coolest thing: with a few seconds to go and the game no longer in question, he called a timeout, grabbed the P.A. mic, and asked L.A. fans to give it up for Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk has still not indicated he’s retiring, but he’s getting a farewell tour anyway.

Ricky O’Donnell checks in on top prospect R.J. Barrett, who is boosting his value by toning it down.

A handful of Blazers were stuck in an elevator for a period of time.

One time for whipped cream.

An entrancing meditation on whether Ben Simmons will, thanks to his Klutch Sports allegiance, be the first superstar to turn down a max rookie extension offer.

Tie back headbands have become all the rage. I didn’t realize how inspirational Dragonball had been to the younger generation.

Jump on the Montrezl Harrell bandwagon before it blows by you.

Dan Devine on the Spurs’ fight to put off the end of the NBA’s most lasting playoff streak.

Monte Morris: best backup point guard in the NBA?

Video evidence suggests LeBron and the Lakers’ veterans need to look in the mirror.

Dreaming of a Nuggets-Bucks Finals.

How did the Wolves get back in the playoff hunt? Karl-Anthony Towns.

Here’s a spicy entree: Marvin Bagley is the most promising big man of the Kings’ Sacramento era, even more than DeMarcus Cousins or Spencer Hawes.

Milos Teodosic is out of the NBA, but he still has it.

Ja Rule’s NBA curse game is a total mess. I wish I could come up with an apt analogy …

Rest in peace, Mark Hollis.

And finally: heavens bless the Atlanta Hawks, who quadruple-teamed James Harden the other night to ensure he didn’t take a final shot to continue his 30-point streak (he was at 28 with the game in hand).

Be excellent to each other.



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