Yup, it has come to this. Iâ€™m all about moral victories these days. Iâ€™m tired of the letdowns, the false hope, the â€œFire Docâ€ bandwagon, the â€œOden sweepstakesâ€ comments. Enough already. Iâ€™m lowering my standards (temporarily). The goal is to win a championship. No, scratch that. The goal is to win several championships. That is NOT going to happen this year (and probably not next year, regardless of any moves we might make). So this is all about the future now. And of late, Iâ€™ve been strangely encouraged by some signs. Here are some:
Gerald Green: Should be obvious after last night, but in case you werenâ€™t watching, he scored 21 points (one short of his career high) on 7-10 shooting, hitting 3 of 5 three pointers. You could also see glimmers of this in the limited minutes he got before now. Heâ€™s currently 2nd in the league in 3 point shooting at an amazing .560 clip. He has made solid progress all year on defense and moving without the ball. Heâ€™s looking less and less lost on the court and even makes smart passes when the defense swarms (setting up Delonte for a 3 pointer last night). Heâ€™s going to have his buck-in-highbeems moments out there, but the talent is unmistakable and the progress is now impossible to ignore.
Al Jefferson: Heâ€™s had solid but not spectacular games all year (when healthy). I hate to sound like Doc here, but the word that pops into my mind when I watch him is â€œclose.â€ Heâ€™s so close to putting it together and just going off. Heâ€™s getting position on the block, but then doesnâ€™t seal his man on the entry pass (that can be taught). Heâ€™s making great moves to get defenders off balance then he shuffles his feet and gets called for traveling (that can be fixed too). Heâ€™s right there, he just needs to put it together (and stay on the floor).
Ryan â€œGlueâ€ Gomes: What more can you say about the year heâ€™s having? No matter how poorly everyone else is playing, he just keeps on putting in solid performances. The roller coaster is going up and down all around him but heâ€™s steady as a rock. The team doesnâ€™t really even call plays for him, he just picks up the mess and cleans up with the leftovers. With Perk out for a while, we might have to start calling plays for one of the few â€œbigâ€ men we have left. Gomes is a solid, solid player that we should absolutely hang on to for a long time. Once we get a few players to step up or bring in a decent player or two, heâ€™s going to be the guy that is the difference between wins and losses in close games.
Of course, not all is peaches and cream (understatement of the week?). Doc and Danny came into the season preaching â€œseparation.â€ Well, for all the positive signs the above are exhibiting, I see plenty of negative signs for these guys:
Delonte West: Solid game last night and better of late, but just a slow start to the year.
Tony Allen: Heâ€™s supposed to at least be a good defender. What happened to that?
Point Guards: Telfair was making progress but has been up and down. Rondo lost his backup role.
It is still early in the year, so all these guys have a long time to make up ground (or slip back). Clearly I wonâ€™t be able to see too many real victories, so Iâ€™ll just settle for the moral ones (for now).