It's almost the All-Star break, and things are as jumbled as Soduku in the dark. I do know the pieces and parts are here. I do know that the secret is here. This team is constructed for the playoffs. The problem is: will they be 100% when they get there?
We all need to assess the NBA season with patience. Yesterday, we all saw Kobe bring it with 7 seconds or so to go. I am as big a Lebron fan as there is, but you cannot, must not, give this guy a look. After a struggling afternoon, he pulled up and sunk the biggie. Surprised? Not in the least. Look, remember Bird, Jordan, Ortiz, Gretzky, etc. All the big time clutch players deliver more than 50% of the time, probably more. The issue for the last dozen plus games has been the finishing shortage. The Celts have played well in spurts, but are like a wobbly wheel...they have a hell of a hitch in their step. They rarely get outclassed from bell to bell. They do, however, lose focus regularly. This is the most troubling thing.
This team had supreme focus in 2008. They helped each other off the floor. They played rotation crazy, effective defense. They took charges, often. They did the little things. KG talked about it after Portland. He said he tried to do the little things. The problem is, like the saying goes, winning is a habit. Like a golfer who loses it, or a pitcher who hits a rut, they have developed bad habits. As veterans, the club knows what is right, yet they fall into the habit of trying to get it all back with a bang. God help us with the three's! In addition, their injuries have totally derailed the program. He is young. Sounds great.; Think of this: the kid banged himself up on a scooter, lied about it, then was suspended by the crummy Warriors (all of a sudden they have a compass?). Look everyone messes up. We all do at some point, but we are talking about bouncing an all-time good guy in Ray Allen. A man with great chemistry all around. He is an excellent player, despite the silliness of the recent criticism of his game. He is in superior shape. He cares. Aren't we tired of taking chances..does anyone remember Telfair? Nice guns...
Ray, like any shooter, will have his ups and downs. However, when you sum up all the math, he will be there more than not. Look hos three point shooting is atrocious, but so is Sheed's. No one is looking to dump hom (not that this is logic to nbot trade anyone, but as fans, what are we looking for?). Our problem in Boston is simple, we wnat it all now. We want the green light, we want the next great politician to do it now, we want that promotion, whatever. People, remember "Colors" when Robert Duvall, the veteran cop, talks with Sean Penn, the rookie cop, about the the Dad bull and the Son bull and the whole walk down to "befriend" the cows, rather than run down?? The NBA is a long season, STOP THE MADNESS! We are just over half way. Let's see what Ray looks like after a solid weekend in the Bahamas at the break. He'll come back. Good shooters always come through it. Keep shooting, get reps, that's what it's all about.
Now the real problem.The defense is weak. When KG is out, they give up more points. The intensity is lacking, but the technical proficiency is not there. The injuries have hurt them in two ways. The first point is simple, guys are out, then they are not on the floor. Result = two cans short of a six pack. Second, when they are all back, they are slow to give up the body. Think about it. How many charges have you seen them take in the last fifteen games? They don't back each other up. So, they don't step in for each other. It does nto appear to be an issue of whether they care fpr each other. By all accounts, this team truly gets along. The issue is a subtle loss of confidence in their health, which lead to a hesitancy to make the extra move. Then, when you continue to miss the play, it becomes habit, a bad habit.
Next is the rebounding. Simply put: it is horrible. Van Gundy pointed out Sunday that the C's are running at a deficit. That's all you need to here, a DEFICIT??? Ugh!
Now, the good news. The team has nearly 40 games to get it together. Who the hell knows about their health? A little point though: we cannot control it as fans. My advice is to stop speculating. That doesn't mean for us not to be analytical, or critical, but think of what it takes to get right. Rather than obsessing about one shot vaccines for the H1N1 the team has, talk up the skills that the boys need to remember. This team has all the skill set players that they need. They just have to swing through like a hitter in a slump in baseball. Tonight's effort is a start in Washington. Always take the "W."
Remember this, there is always the next game, when you are mired (and I mean mired) in the regular season. Yesterday, in the first quarter, the Lakers were solid gold, premium, A1. Then, they got it handed to them, only to revive and hit the game winner. Then sports radio, blog nation went koo-koo. ow will we compete? What will we do? Well, it's all there people, besides the mighty Lakers rolled into Memphis tonight....and lost. So does that mean Memphis is Finals-bound? Probably not. See what happens. For the first time in twenty-plus years the Celtics are more than relevant. Enjoy it for God's sake. The team we have won't last long. It may even be going out, but for another few months stay on the band wagon and see it through...Besides, next season, why not let Ray's contract expire, and then make charter reservations for a visit to Cleveland...it'd be better to see Wyc and company pay the luxury tax, rather than extend Monta Ellis. Wouldn't it?