Boston Celtics just lost to Houston Rockets by 115-104, CBS reported. Last season, despite a season-ending injury to free agent acquisition Gordon Heyward on opening night, and superstar Kyrie Irving missing the playoffs with a knee injury, won 55 games and made an unexpected run to the Eastern Conference Finals. There, they fell in seven games to the Lebron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers, who were on a Cinderella-like run to the NBA Finals.

This led many people to pick the Celtics to be the best team in the east and reach the NBA Finals in 2019.

But the way things have been going lately, doing so will be even harder than it was last season.

The Celtics have looked impressive at times this season, such as when they went on an eight-game winning streak early in the season or when they won 10 out of 11 games in January and early February. But consistency has been hard to come by, and now the team has lost seven of their last 10 games, including their 118-95 loss on February 27 in Toronto, their most lopsided loss of the season.

After that, they suffered a 97-92 loss at home against the Portland Trail Blazers, and although they managed a win against the struggling Wizards, on March 3 they lost to another elite team in the Houston Rockets.

This recent slide also included a one-point loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on February 21, an embarrassing 10-point loss to the lowly Chicago Bulls two days later. Plus, there was a gut-wrenching loss to their bitter rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, on a buzzer-beating game-winning shot by former Celtic Rajon Rondo.

After the loss to the Raptors, Celtics guard Marcus Smart implied that chemistry is the problem.

"What are the main ingredients to those collapses? Not being together," Smart said. "And that's it.

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We're just not together. Plain and simple. That's it. Because if we were together, that wouldn't happen. We're all talking and linking up, but like I said, it's something we're going through, and it's something we're going to have to continue to work at and figure it out, " Sports Abs reported.

The Celtics kids aren't alright

A big part of the hype surrounding the Celtics this season was the play of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier during last year's NBA playoffs.

After averaging a modest 13.9 points per game during the regular season, Tatum, the third overall pick of the 2017 NBA draft, put up 18.5 points a game during the postseason.

He looked to have superstar potential and seemed poised to take a significant step forward this season.

But it hasn't happened. Tatum is averaging 16.3 points per game so far this season. Good, but not exactly great.

Brown also impressed in last year's playoffs by posting 18 points per game, but this season he has regressed to 12.7 points per game, which is less than the 14.5 points a game he averaged during the regular season last year.

Terry Rozier, a key reserve in the Celtics' backcourt, averaged 11.3 points and 2.9 assists a game last season, then upped that to 16.5 points and 5.7 assists in the playoffs.

This season he is down to 8.9 points a game, and his per-36 minute scoring average is also down from last season.

Unlike most other elite and near-elite teams throughout the league, the Celtics lack a second star to give Kyrie Irving support and diversify their scoring. Even worse, there are rumblings that teammates aren't enjoying playing with Irving, who will be a free agent this summer. Irving said early in the season he planned on resigning with Boston, but recently has seemed to walk that back.

After the Celtics' loss to the Lakers, Irving made some complimentary comments about former teammate Lebron James, which has led some to speculate if he's planning on a reunion with him by signing with the Lakers this summer.

The Eastern Conference is no longer the 'Leastern Conference'

For most of the past 20 years since Michael Jordan retired from the Chicago Bulls, the Eastern Conference has been much weaker than the Western Conference, and in some years has lacked a truly elite team. Although James has taken his talents to Venice Beach to play for the Los Angeles Lakers, the rest of the Eastern Conference has risen from the ashes and given the league some real competitive balance.

The Philadelphia 76ers, the Celtics' historical rivals in the Atlantic Division, have added Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler to a roster that already featured MVP candidate Joel Embiid and reigning Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons, giving them arguably the league's most talented roster outside of the Golden State Warriors.

The other leading MVP candidate in the east, Giannis Antetokounmpo, has his Milwaukee Bucks riding high with the best record in the conference. They rank fifth in offensive efficiency, first in defensive efficiency and fifth in pace.

The Toronto Raptors are now in second place in the east with a 45-17 record, putting them five-and-a-half games ahead of the Boston Celtics.

They, like the Bucks, are a well-balanced team at both ends of the floor and have one of the deepest benches in the league, especially after adding Jeremy Lin and three-time All-Star Marc Gasol.

The Celtics' chances of getting to the NBA Finals for the 22nd time in franchise history aren't quite slim-to-none yet, but they are definitely facing long odds of recapturing the glory that their fans enjoyed in the past.

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