CHICAGO -- When Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers tells you his suddenly inconsistent team will get this right, you're inclined to believe him because recent history suggest the Celtics are indeed capable of such a feat (just dig out your 2010 playoff tapes for proof).
But your eyes tend to tell you something different and on the heels of a 97-81 thumping at the hands of the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night at the United Center, there's reason to question whether this team is truly capable of making history repeat.
Rewind to last year when the Celtics rested their ailing stars down the stretch while stumbling to a 27-27 mark over the final 54 games, settling for a fourth seed in the Eastern Conference before flipping that proverbial switch when those stars aligned back on the court in the playoffs.
This year, the Celtics are 8-9 over their past 17 games, and that's with their Big Four on the court for nearly the entirety. Sure the numbers aren't quite as daunting as last season -- in fact, Boston is 30-17 since Jan. 1 and 18-13 since Feb. 1. But its inability to generate any sort of consistency lately is allowing the first signs of doubt to creep into the locker room.
"It's a pretty different team," said Rajon Rondo, comparing last year's team to now. "It's not the same team. We're not going to be able to turn it on like we did last year. Even last year, we came up short [in Games 6 and 7 of the NBA Finals]. I don't know what we're waiting on, but, these type of games, we have to find a way to win.
"It's a roller coaster right now, and we went back down today."