Injuries May Doom a Celtics Repeat

Kevin Garnett is expected back next Friday, when the Celtics take on the San Antonio Spurs.

His return cannot come soon enough for a Celtics team that is not just losing games but has lost the focus and fire that made them intimidating champions last year. And while maybe Garnett’s return can relight the fire under the Celtics, the losses that piled up in his absence will make their road back to the Finals much harder.

Sunday afternoon in Milwaukee it was the Bucks that were the hard-nosed defensive team, looking more like the championship Celtics than the current Celtics. Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo combined to shoot 8 of 36 from the field. As a team, the Celtics shot 37.7%  and were 1 of 12 from three point range.

That was the third loss in four games for the Celtics — something that should not happen to a defending champion with stars like Pierce and Allen. The Celtics seems to have lost their discipline. The team is currently not looking anything like one that can seriously contend for another banner to hang in the crowded rafters of Boston.

KG will return with his trademark focus and a willingness to get in his teammates faces. The question is will that be enough to right the ship? Especially with key bench guy Tony Allen out for the season, and Big Baby Glen Davis and Brian Scalabrine out for a while too.

To shore up all these problems, the Celtics signed Stephon Marbury — and so far he is shooting 30.6%. Not exactly helping the offense much.

Even if KG and company can right the ship, the recent string of losses are certainly making it harder to even get back to the Finals. There is almost no way they can catch the Cavaliers for the top spot in the East, and Cleveland has lost just one game at home all season. Plus, the Celtics are just half a game ahead of Orlando — a team with Dwight Howard that seems destined for a second round showdown with the Celtics. That is going to be a physical, draining and hard fought series taking place while Cleveland likely cruises and gets plenty of rest.

All is not lost — this team is 50-17 on the year (what would the Raptors give to have that record?). But in Boston, where success is measured in things that can hang in the rafters, this season seems to be sliding toward failure. And not even KG’s scowl may be enough to save it.

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