The optimist in me wants to believe in this team. I want to believe that they will get healthy and get back into that same rhythm that had them rolling in the first couple months of the season. I mean, there is still plenty of time between now and the end of the season for things to turn around. But I'm not sure. And that uncertainty is unnerving.
Ratcheting up the anxiety, of course, is the trade deadline. In theory you should know if your team "has it" or doesn't after 3 months of games. But injuries have clouded and distorted the image too much to make a clear analysis. However, that uncertainty might itself be an indication of the answer.
It becomes a percentage play of sorts. No team can be 100% sure they'll be healthy in the playoffs, but many teams can say that they have a reasonably good chance at fielding their top 8 or 9 players. What are the chances that the Celtics can do that? 80%? 70%? 50%? At times it feels like less.
Today was the first time we've actually had our top 8 ready to go, and even that wasn't enough to avoid an epic collapse. How much of that was guys getting back into playing shape? How many injuries are the guys playing through because they don't want to let their team down? Of course the worst scenario would be that maybe the guys are reasonably healthy and they just aren't good enough any more. Having the 2nd best record in the East isn't as impressive when you can't beat the Hawks and only have one win over the Magic.
But once again, we just don't know if this team has what it takes to turn it around and recapture that Championship swagger or not. Yet we approach the trade deadline with a decision to make. Trade Ray Allen or keep him and let it ride? I don't want to trade him if it isn't a move that gives us a legit shot at the title this year. But if you can get a guy that helps us this year and into the future (Iggy, Martin, etc.) then you have to think about it long and hard.
I have to note that future considerations have to be considered. I know most don't want to hear about it, but we can't simply take on all the future cash in the world if it means hog-tying our salary cap for the next 5 years for this one shot.
Ainge has said all along that if he can make a deal that puts us in a position to win now and later, he'll do it. I couldn't imagine too many deals that would have made sense but perhaps I wasn't being creative enough. Or maybe I underestimated the desperation that some teams have in wanting to cut money. Or perhaps all these trade rumors are being overblown (a very real possibility).
And that brings me back to my original point. We just don't know. And that is troubling.