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Shaq, D-Wade highlight Celtics‘ biggest issue originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

What’s wrong with the Boston Celtics?

One Hall of Fame center and a soon-to-be Hall of Fame guard gave their take on TNT after the Celtics’ embarrassing 106-96 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night.

Shaquille O’Neal noted “You’ve got to have that alpha male, that go-to guy.”

Celtics All-Star forward Jayson Tatum should be that guy, but he didn’t look like one versus the Sixers

Dwyane Wade dove a little deeper into Boston’s struggles. He sees a lack of an identity as a huge problem.

“I don’t think they have an identity. What is the Boston Celtics’ identity? It’s not defensively. They’re not great in transition. They’re not exceptionally great in the half-court when it comes to execution of the game, even though they have an amazing coach and amazing players,” Wade said. “When I watch them — you’ve got to have an identity as a team, and what are you going to lean your head on when things get tough, when guys do miss games, when injuries do happen. This team does not have one. They’re talented, but they don’t have that identity.”

In fairness to the Celtics — and Candace Parker made this point to O’Neal and Wade on TNT — it’s difficult to create an identity when multiple players are missing just about every game. 

Forsberg: Any optimism about a Celtics turnaround has vanished

Evan Fournier and Tristan Thompson — two important veterans — both were out Tuesday night. Celtics players have been in the league’s health and safety protocols longer than any other team by far. Boston’s best player, Jayson Tatum, had COVID-19 earlier in the season and has admitted it impacted him even after returning to the court.

The Celtics should still be playing a lot better, regardless of these injuries and COVID issues. There’s way too much talent on this team for its record to be below .500 in the second half of the regular season. 

The hope for the C’s is they can get as healthy as possible and begin to forge an identity over the final month of the season. Accomplishing this goal would be a huge benefit before the play-in tournament and/or the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.