12-10, winners of 8 of their past 10, is more like it.
The Celtics haven’t completely recovered from their slow start, but they’re playing about as well as us fans could hope, especially considering the recent absence of Rondo.
We’re still only twenty-two games into this season. There is a lot of basketball left to be played. Here are some thoughts and issues from the past eleven games.
Thoughts and Issues:
- The thought I want to start with is this (a rhetorical question): Has any team in the past few decades destroyed more organizations than the ‘Big 3-era’ Celtics team? Last week, the Celtics single-handedly destroyed the Orlando Magic franchise, first by holding them to 56 points in a game and then by completing a 27-point comeback. Dwight Howard is not staying in Orlando, and for years people will refer back to these two games against the Celtics as the epitome of why. The Celtics put the final two nails into that coffin. Seem reminiscent of another time? It is. Remember back in 2010 when the Celtics single-handedly destroyed the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise, sending LeBron James fleeing to South Beach with his tail between his legs? No other team since 2008 has altered the NBA landscape to the degree that the Celtics have. Two franchises with superstar talent lost their superstars because those ‘super’stars realized they couldn’t beat the Celtics without a LOT of help. I don’t care that the Celtics fell to the Heat in last season’s playoffs. I’ll always know that LeBron ran away from Cleveland because of what the Celtics did to him. Regardless of how many titles the ‘Big 3-era’ Celtics end up with, I will always remember how they exposed King James and Superman Dwight to be the cowards and second-bananas they always were.
- Staying with the above thought, it is undeniable that the ‘Big 3-era’ Celtics have been the true barometer in the NBA since 2008. Teams judge themselves by how they perform against these Celtics. Before Perk was traded last year, NO TEAM in the NBA had beaten a healthy Celtics team in the playoffs. Not one. With a healthy starting five, the Celtics were unbeatable in the playoffs. Even today, do you think there’s a team in the Eastern Conference that wants to face the Celtics in a seven game series? If they do, then they have a Sisyphus-complex. You may beat this older version of the Celtics, but you’re going to have to work for it. The past eleven games, especially the two against Orlando, have reminded us of what the Celtics are capable of. It’s a fantastic feeling as a fan.
- The problem with having every team afraid of you is that when they sense weakness they bring everything that have at you, and the Celtics need to be able to withstand another team’s best shot. So far this season, they haven’t been able to. At this age, I don’t know if they can. But, I am feeling better after the past two weeks. Equal to health will be the team’s willpower. Can these Celtics bring it every game? Come playoffs, that’s all that matters.
- After the first eleven games, I wrote that Rondo was the wrong PG for this team. I believed it in the off-season, and I still believe it, but let’s not get carried away with how well they played in his absence. The team still needs a PG, and Rondo is an above-average PG (fantastic distributor + poor shooter = above-average PG). I know that a PG who shot the ball more consistently and hit the occasional three-pointer would be a better addition to this current squad than Rondo, but I am prepared to go the season with Rondo (as I’m sure Ainge is). He’s certainly better than a mix of Bradley/Moore with Pierce doing most of the offensive initiating. Come playoff time, that formula won’t work. Many fans want to rebuild with Rondo come next season, but I don’t see him as the Alpha-type through which to rebuild. We’ll see. I definitely believe he’ll be with the team through year’s end.
- Doc has been doing a much better job handling the veterans’ minutes and allowing the rookies to play. I know his hand has been somewhat forced, but this is stubborn ol’Doc we’re talking about, and he easily could have run Pierce and KG into the ground by now. Seeing Bradley and Moore on the floor more often bodes well for the team’s future, both short- and long-term.
- The team could still use additional rebounding and low post drills. The Celts rank at the bottom of the league in all rebounding numbers and points in the paint. The team still settles for too many jumpers. KG and Bass have been playing well, but as this shortened season drags on it will begin to weigh heavily on their legs. And, when the legs go, the jumpers stop falling. Anyone who plays basketball knows that. Doc needs to initiate a few more simple low post plays in order to get these big guys closer to the basket.
- Mickael Pietrus has been a wonderful addition, as I always knew he would be. If only he could have joined the team in 2009 after Posey left. Pietrus is exactly the type of player the Celtics always needed but couldn’t find each off-season. He plays defense, runs the floor, and hits open threes. Great to see him out there doing his thing, being all sexy and knowing it.
- Just added! Jermaine O’Neal is having a MRI done on his knee due to swelling and/or pain. Can’t say I’m surprised. I am disappointed, regardless of how little he fills the stat line. The Celtics need size and Jermaine has that. Without him, Ainge will be forced into making a move for a big man, and without many options and very little money he may be forced into trading someone.
The next eleven games brings them through the All Star Game and finds them facing the Grizzlies, Mavs, Lakers, Thunder, and Bulls (twice), while playing three back-to-backs. This will be a difficult eleven games. Anything over .500 will be a success.
I hope my next update finds them with a record of 23-10. Go Celtics!