Each weekend during the season, we'll take a look at three players (or areas) that are trending in different directions based on recent play. Sound off with your thoughts on who's up and who's down in the comment section:
This week's stats: 5.0 points, 1.0 steals, 0.3 rebounds, 18 minutes per game (3 games)
After taking two weeks to strengthen his right knee, Pietrus hopped into the fire this week and responded with some inspired defensive play that nearly helped the Celtics rally Wednesday night against the Mavericks. Pietrus has leapfrogged Marquis Daniels on the depth chart given his defensive energy. The only thing missing is a little more consistency in his shooting (5 of 16, 31.2 percent).
This week's stats: 9 points in 21 minutes over last two games
With Keyon Dooling nursing a right knee ailment and Avery Bradley struggling to generate any sort of offensive consistency, Moore was the beneficiary by week's end, logging 20 minutes of court time Saturday night against the Pacers (in the shadow of where he played his college ball at Purdue). Moore responded with seven points, three assists, two rebounds, and two steals in the outing. After the game, Celtics coach Doc Rivers hinted more playing time could be coming for the young combo guard.
This week's stats: 0-3
Yep, it's been that sort of week -- when the only thing up, unfortunately, is the number of losses. Sure, the schedule was a bit daunting with three games in four nights, but Boston eased into the week with four consecutive offdays, engaging in two spirited full-team practice sessions on Monday and Tuesday. Even still, the Celtics limped through an 0-3 week, losing to the Mavericks, Bulls, and Pacers. Wednesday's loss was the most frustrating of the lot, as a well-rested Boston team crumbled in crunch time against a Dallas squad playing the second night of a back-to-back.
Last week's up: Kevin Garnett, Greg Stiemsma, Avery Bradley
Plenty of potential player candidates, but let's avoid singling anyone out as the team as a whole has been rather atrocious this week. Here are three areas the Celtics need improvement:
The Celtics continue to suggest they'll turn these early season struggles around, but nothing about their recent play indicates that's true (particularly given their woes against quality opponents). Boston has been slow out of the gates most nights and lacks the crunch-time execution that's been its hallmark during the Big Three era. Players admit they might be pressing a bit, so desperate to get back on track during this four-game losing streak, but at some point you have to start wondering about the confidence level.
Only one team in the league has grabbed less rebounds than the Celtics (the Clippers, and they've played two less games this year). Even if you zoom in on defensive rebounding rate (the amount of available defensive boards the Celtics are able to corral), they still currently rank 25th at 71.2 percent (league average is 73.5 percent, while the Dallas team that abused them on the glass Wednesday night tops the league at 76.9 percent). The Celtics have issues rebounding at both ends of the floor -- Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge went so far as to dub offensive rebounds as one of the two biggest problems currently facing the team -- and Boston needs to figure out a way to be more competitive on the glass despite a lack of pure size.
The Celtics were amazingly efficient on offense to start the season, due in large part to the amount of jumpers they were hitting. Their field goal percent has dropped because outside jumpers haven't been doing the same and Boston has become one-dimensional at times (lacking a consistent post presence). Boston now ranks 17th in offensive rating, averaging 101.6 points per 100 possessions (league average is 102.6 and Boston's number has barely been in the low 90s at times during this losing streak). The Celtics need to find a way to more consistently generate offense, particularly early in games.
Last week's down: Bench, Marquis Daniels, Jermaine O'Neal