Ever since Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen arrived in Boston, the team has been great out of the gate and faded after Christmas. Wouldn't it be great (we thought) if the season was just 3 or 4 months long? Now we'll see if we should have been careful for what we wished for.
A schedule of 66 games actually sounds perfect to me, as long as there is enough time between games to travel and rest and maybe even, you know, practice once in a while. We haven't seen the new schedule yet, but the fear is that there will be lots and lots of back-to-back games (our Kryptonite for the last few years) and too many games per week to rest properly - especially for a veteran group like ours.
Of course, that's not to say all is lost. Doc will just have to be very careful about how he manages minutes. As Bulpett puts it:
Doc Rivers will have to manage minutes well, giving his veterans ample free time on off days to rest their legs, sip on a Geritol martini and watch "Matlock." One only can hope Ray Allen (36), Kevin Garnett (35), Pierce (34) and Jermaine O’Neal (33) aren’t using walkers by the end of the season.
Keep in mind, "manage minutes" is simply code for playing other guys more minutes, which can be dicey when you are trying to win games (something hardwired into every good coach's DNA). So Danny also has his work cut out for him in filling up the roster.
One guy already set to join the team that could make a positive impact is rookie JaJuan Johnson. Kind of a Kevin Garnett type of player (though it remains to be seen how much of a defender he will turn out to be).
Johnson said he has spent the past few months working on lower-body strength. The Celtics like his athleticism and energy, and his 6-foot-10-inch, 220-pound frame is reminiscent of Garnett when he came into the league 16 years ago. He runs the floor effortlessly and has a solid mid-range jumper, but Johnson has yet to display an NBA-level low-post game. "I have just been working on my core, my flexibility really,’’ he said. "I want to be able to move better on the court. Those things are pretty big for me. I feel like I’m moving better, it’s easier, and I am definitely seeing improvement.’’ Johnson said he has talked with Jeff Green and worked out with Rondo in the summer. He has yet to talk to Garnett.
If I could give some unsolicited advice to J.J. it would be this. Respectfully seek out KG, request to become his apprentice, and soak in every last drop of knowledge possible. Remember, there were reports of guys joining the Celtics (Patrick O'Bryant was one of them I believe) that didn't listen to Garnett when he tried to show them something. Disgusted, KG shut them off and didn't bother with them anymore. Don't let that happen to you J.J. In a best case scenario, you could take the baton from Garnett and help Rondo lead this team into the next era. Cherish this season of learning - in particular considering how little time you'll have to practice.
I think there will be time for him to play, however. There will be times where he'll be buried on the bench and perhaps even in Maine. But the team will need big, durable bodies to eat up minutes and that will be his chance. If Semih Erden could play and contribute last year, I would think that the (theoretically) more talented Johnson could as well. He won't be perfect, but that's a luxury nobody will have in this shortened season.
You could even argue (and I think that I will) that giving young players and role players larger minutes will prepare them better for when they'll be called upon when it matters most. So as a result, a few losses would totally be worth the added experience given to guys that will need it.
The season will be short, hectic, and tiring. It remains to be seen just how much that will impact the Celtics and how the team will be positioned for the playoffs. I don't think seeding will matter all that much, but getting the team to the post season in good shape will be critical - even more than ever.