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No Panic Yet, But Reality Check Time

Celtics fans are expressing a lot of emotions right now, mostly negative. An 0-3 start does that to a fanbase. I can't speak for every fan but then again, that is kind of my job description, so I will do the best I can to help you sort this out.

Somewhere between "We stink, time to blow it up!" and endless excuses and blind faith is a middle ground called rational reality. In my most humble opinion, this team is not yet a lottery bound loser. As a fan, I'll never fully lose hope that they can pull things together and once again become a contender for the title. After watching this team for the last few years I've learned to never fully count them out (especially after a mere 3 games). That said, I'm afraid that there's a really good chance that this team just isn't good enough to hang with the best in the league anymore.

I think that is why Danny Ainge was so willing (and eager if reports are accurate) to trade Rajon Rondo and Jermaine O'Neal. He is rightfully worried about this roster and doesn't think that we have enough weapons - especially when injuries happen. The Paul Pierce injury isn't just a minor setback that will be forgotten in a few weeks. It is the new reality in Boston. Maybe Pierce will heal up fine and play the rest of the season, but someone else is going to get hurt. It's just a matter of time.

Last year we were very, very lucky to have our best players on the court for most of the season because it seemed like a revolving door on the bench. This year the odds are stacked against us being so "lucky." Kevin Garnett looks like all those minutes over his long, long career may have just caught up with him. Will he get a second wind or will he crawl across the finish line (and I don't mean in a ferocious menacing way either)? Ray looks like he'll play till he's 50, but he's also a shooter and if anything happens to those legs, he's toast. Rondo's best when he's attacking the rim with reckless abandon, which is also when he's most vulnerable to injury. I haven't even talked about the bench which is kiddie pool shallow right now.

So we'll have to take it as a given that the phrase "when fully healthy" is a pipe dream. Especially when the games are coming fast and furious and the schedule is going to do nobody any favors.

On the flipside, there's at least some hope for us to hold onto. We won't play consecutive games away from home until late February. By that time we'll have a much better understanding of where we're at as a team when we hit the road. Pierce is going to heal up eventually. Also, Mickael Pietrus will help our defense and give us another shooter on the floor to help our team's spacing. Both of those guys in the lineup along with Marquis Daniels means Sasha Pavlovic will go from starter to the end of the bench where he belongs.

Brandon Bass is a very good pickup and a nice piece of the puzzle. Greg Stiemsma is a one trick pony, but that one trick is something that we've needed for a while. Chris Wilcox will be back soon, and he provides some needed hops. Finally, Keyon Dooling is unspectacular but competent as a backup point guard. These are all good things and not to be forgotten because of the goose egg in the win column.

There's still time for the draft picks to get used to the NBA and the Celtics system, but it concerns me that JaJuan Johnson is not getting time when we obviously have such a need for a big man. E'Twaun Moore hasn't seen much time yet, but he might steal some minutes from the very unimpressive Avery Bradley soon.

So what's the bottom line here? I don't know yet. Nobody really does because it has only been 3 games. That said, there's only 66 games in the season, so as the great Yogi Berra once said, "It gets late early around here." We'll have to figure things out soon or it will be time for plan D. I don't think D stands for "detonate" but I guess you never know. Some great teams get broken up, some fade away, and some just have the wheels come off all of a sudden. We'll know a lot more in a month or two.

This epic saga has an ending and it sure seems like we're reading the last few chapters. I hope we've got one last heroic fight to the finish left in this crew. I hope, but I don't know. And that's where we're at right now.

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