I have been reading all of these posts about what this team needs to do to keep the championship window open. While some calmer heads are preaching patience and health, I am seeing many saying that the window is already closed, that if Ainge doesn't see how bad we are he's blind, that this team just isn't competing with the heart of the past, etc. To those that feel that way, I say: remember who were are!
In 2007-08, when Kevin Garnett played we won more than 80% of our games with a point margin of +10.5. When we got to the playoffs we worked through rust early on as the team learned to play with each other, but in the Finals we rocked the heavily favored Lakers.
In 2008-09 when Kevin Garnett played we won more than 80% of our games with a point margin of +9.7. After he went down the team still fought valiantly and won about 2/3 of their games, but with a point margin of +3.8. Whether you're into advanced stats or not, there is a pretty solid body of evidence that point margin is at least as good of an indicator about team caliber as win-loss record. Before the playoffs even began last season John Hollinger predicted that the Celtics would have an extremely close series with the Bulls and had less than a 50/50 shot of beating the Magic even though the Cs had home court advantage, because of the point margins with and without Garnett. In this instance he was spot-on on both counts.
This season, before KG went down with that first "bruised thigh" we were winning more than 80% of our games with a point margin of +9.5. Yes, since he went down the team hasn't looked like itself, but here's the kicker...it's looked just like it did last season, and JUST LIKE IT DID IN 2008 without Garnett.
For any stat to be effective, you have to have a certain sample size. In 2008 and thus far in 2010, the Cs didn't have enough of a sample size without Garnett to truly evaluate them. They did in 2009, when his injury came with more than a third of the season left, and the point margin and playoff results both suggested the same thing: without Garnett, the Celtics would still be a solid team, somewhere between the Bulls and the Magic. Probably about 50 wins, legitimate playoff team. But no longer contenders. With that in mind, let's look at the trends from 2008 and 2010:
2008: Celtics were undefeated against putrid teams, smashing lottery-bound squads by 12.4 points/game. They were about a .500 team against solid, playoff-bound teams.
2010: Celtics are undefeated against putrid teams, smashing lottery-bound squads by 16.5 points/game. They are close to a .500 team against solid, playoff contending teams.
One big difference between 2008 and 2010? In 2008 the Cs played seven putrid teams and four playoff contenders without KG, but in 2010 they have played two putrid teams and eight playoff contenders. Oh yeah, and over that same time period Paul Pierce (you may have heard of him) also missed a couple of games injured.
The point? Remember who we are! I know that it can be hard to see past the fact that the Lakers won the title with the Cs stuck in the 2nd round last year. I know that it flat out sucks to see us getting beat right regular by the Mavs and Hawks of the world. But keep in mind, when Kevin Garnett plays we win more than 80% of our games. That's just as true this year as it was in 2008. And the last time Kevin Garnett played in the playoffs we won a title, soundly defeating the team that would win it the next year in our absence.
If your concern is whether KG will be able to get/stay healthy again, I totally understand that. After last season, I would expect no different. But really, at this point there is nothing that we can do about that but hope for the best. There is no realistic trade or acquisition that we can make that will make this team contenders if their best player gets hurt. It could turn out that this team is like the '87 Celtics, just not healthy enough to win it all. But you know what? NOBODY wanted to play those '87 Celtics, including the Lakers that eventually won. That team was tough as nails, and certainly could have won that title.
This team is the same way. Nobody, not Kobe, not LeBron, not Dwight, not ANYBODY wants to play this team if all five starters are on the floor. This team is historic. This team should win the title.
REMEMBER WHO WE ARE!