I'm a big believer in not jumping to conclusions after the first few games. In fact, I like to use a rule of thumb of waiting 20 games before deciding how I feel about a team. We'll, we're 20 games in and the Boston Celtics are a very mediocre 11-9.
I'd certainly like to be a lot closer to the 15-5 record that the Knicks have at the top of the East but at least we aren't 9-12 like the Lakers (who would be a lottery team if the playoffs started tomorrow).
You know the story lines by now. The Celtics are inconsistent. They haven't displayed the top ranked defensive form that we have grown accustomed to in the Kevin Garnett era. They are, however, scoring more thanks in large part to Rajon Rondo who's having an MVP candidate season thus far.
We are getting better than expected performances from Chris Wilcox and Leandro Barbosa, but Courtney Lee and Jeff Green started off slowly and are just now coming around. Sullinger and Bass seem to take turns stepping up and the team is still a little too heavily reliant upon Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Still, for all of that, Doc is happy with the team's progress.
"It’s been great; it really has been," Rivers said. "You know, we can’t string a streak of wins together yet, but you can feel us playing better. So you feel like it’s coming, just nothing’s happened. We’re treading water but I like our trend; I like where we’re going. "The pick and roll defense has improved dramatically, but our rotation still is not there, but they’re much better. Our pressuring the ball, you know without Avery (Bradley), we just kind of backed off of that. So I know that’s an area we’re going to get way better. Because when he does it everyone does it and it helps your team. Right now it’s just hard to do."
Doc has forgotten more about the game than I'll ever know and he sees things that I'd never pick up. So I'm gonna go ahead and take his word on that. That said, I know he's trying to provide some positive motivation and confidence to his team here. So I'll also take it with a pinch of salt.
What my humble eyes are telling me is this: The Celtics can be as good as any team in the league. They took down the Thunder and at times have looked like a top contender. They just don't get up for every game and can't seem to hit or miss from one night to the next.
One missing ingredient is obviously Avery Bradley. He's not the cure all to everything that ails this team, but he'll help and he's certainly the best guy that we could add to this roster without giving someone up in return. But we'll just have to wait and see how well he fits in and changes the dynamic when he gets back on the court.
So how do I feel about the team? Cautiously optimistic I suppose. Then again, I think that describes me 98% of the time; be it 20 games in or 80. I haven't seen enough to change my tune, but that's just me.
How about you? How are you feeling 20 games in? Do you think we need a little bit of help? A few medium sized changes? A major overhaul? Or stay the course and let things play out?
(see the poll below and of course share your comments - yes, you too lurkers, I want to hear from you as well)