Karalis: Boston Celtics are out of answers, and out of time

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

If you watch enough nature shows, you inevitably get to one of those survival of the fittest scenes. The pack needs to find something to eat or drink and fast, or else predators are going to get a free meal.

In some shows, they find an oasis, and a seemingly miraculous chance to stave off the hungry lions for another day. In others, well, they aren't quite as lucky.

This is where this year's aimless, staggering Boston Celtics team finds itself; desperate for a break but on the verge of never finding it.

"We got a different level of response than we've had in the past," Jaylen Brown said after another loss, this time to the Dallas Mavericks.  "Celtics basketball is about scrapping, getting after guys defensively, 1 through 5, we haven't had that in the starting unit or off the bench. As a team, we haven't had it. In years past, we have. ... It doesn't mean that tomorrow can't spark something different. It hasn't been there as much as we would like this year."

That much is clear. The Celtics' strategy at this point is to win games like Homer Simpson wins boxing matches; take a brutal pounding and come back when the other team gets tired of dishing out punishment. The Celtics' will to fire counter punches is sorely lacking.

"The most frustrating part is we let adversity take us out of what we’re doing for too long," Brad Stevens said.  "It’s just the same old story. It’s like 12-minute droughts because we don’t respond. ... We’ve got to respond better in the middle of the game. We just haven’t. That’s the bottom line."

Yes, but how?