Grading the Celtics at midway point

Let's not sugarcoat it: The first half of the 2011-12 season was a hot mess for the Boston Celtics, who stumbled into the All-Star break riding a Big Three-era worst five-game losing streak and owning a mere 15-17 record.

Known for their fast starts the past four seasons, the Celtics arrive at the halfway point clinging to the eighth seed in a top-heavy Eastern Conference. Blame injuries, or the schedule, or whatever else you'd like for Boston's woes, but it's clear there's plenty of room for improvement.

A note as we deliver midseason grades: As always, with Professor Forsberg's scale, marks are based on preseason expectations and how players have fared based on what was anticipated (so a player might outperform another on the court, but if he's failing to meet his own expectations, his grade could be worse).

Some will look at the marks and say, "How the heck is this team 15-17 when the starters grade out fairly well?" It all comes back to injuries and the fact that Boston simply hasn't been able to overcome the absence of key players (which has seemingly been a nightly occurrence).

Players are, by and large, meeting expectations, but the underperformance at the end of the bench has left Boston unable to sustain 48 minutes of play when a starter or key reserve is out of the lineup. And when every game is proving to be a grind, those lapses have left Boston with more losses than wins at the break.

Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.