So who exactly are the 2010-2011 Boston Celtics? Are they the team that handled the Lakers in Los Angeles 109-96? The team that is 3-0 against the Miami Heatels, Sobe Three, or whatever they are calling themselves today? Are they an old withered bunch who father time seems to favor for 48 minutes a night? Or are they the team with embarrassing loses to the Bobcats, Pistons, Suns, Rockets, and gulp….the Cavaliers? What about the team that sleep walks through games and forgets how to score for quarters at a time? Let me state the obvious, the Boston Celtics are all of the above. One thing they are not and haven’t been all season is healthy. A scary proposition for the rest of the NBA considering the Celts, despite all their flaws, sit atop the Eastern Conference at 40-14 going into the All-Star Break.
The math is staggering if you add up all the games key Celtics have missed because of injury. Delonte West 49, Kendrick Perkins 43, Jermaine O’neal 37, Shaq 18 games, Rajon Rondo 11, Kevin Garnett 9. Marquis Daniels is now out as well for the next month at least. And this team still has the best record in the East going into the All-Star break? Tsk, tsk Miami. That is baffling and at the same time inspiring. Doc Rivers does receive plenty of praise for his coaching acumen but the job he has done this season with the Celtic mash unit is 2nd to none. All due respect to the San Antonio Spurs and Gregg Popovich but if they had as many injuries as the Celtics I doubt they would be sitting atop of their conference.
The Big 4 (Rondo, Garnett, Pierce, and Allen) have been the spoons that stir Boston’s championship aspiring pot. Rondo continues to progress and Pierce has been steady, but its the resurgence of Garnett and the career shooting numbers from Allen that have the Celtic faithful dreaming of that 18th championship. The Boston quartet is tops in the league with a +241 in the ever telling plus/minus statistic just edging out the Lakers 4 of Bryant, Gasol, Fisher, and Ron Artest? at +238.
So enough of the good cheer. What can this team do to get better and secure that another duck boat parade graces the streets of Boston? I will tell you three things:
- Get and stay healthy! This is paramount for the title run for any team but even more so for Boston. While it has been a better than expected start to the season not having the team’s full compliment of players can be a problem when it comes to setting rotations and roles. How do the minutes of the bigs (Perk, The O’neals, Glen Davis, and Garnett) get divided? Do Semih Erden and Luke Harangody still crack the rotation? Probably not but still it begs to question. Delonte West, Nate Robinson, and Von Wafer in the backcourt? Who is the backup to Rondo? Doc needs to get his guys back to figure this all out before the playoffs.
- Get consistent play from the bench. There have been too many games where the starters get off to a great start only to watch the bench come in and blow the lead. Doc is a trusting a soul and he continues to give guys chances, some out of necessity and others in hopes of inspiring confidence. The starters obviously need rest but at no time should a lineup of Robinson, Wafer, Daniels, Harangody, and Erden be running around in the 2nd quarter. C’mon Doc lets be for real. Again I am sure Rivers is getting those guys acclimated but sometimes you just have to say no. Davis has been the only consistent player off the Celtic bench. He is crafty around the rim and has a better than average range on his jumper that keeps opposing forwards honest on defense. He also leads the league in charges taken. The most maddening player has been Nate Robinson. Something just isn’t right with Kryptonate, I have found myself regularly cursing his name (sometimes in my sleep) wishing he was deployed to the Maine Red Claws (The Celtics D-League affiliate). Something has got to give with Nate and his play namely a Delonte West return.
- Keep the ball moving: The Celtics are a model of offensive efficiency leading the league in fg% (.494), and assists/game (24.3). As stated earlier, the Celtics often suffer lulls where the ball movement isn’t as crisp and the offense stagnates making watching paint dry more exciting. This must be avoided at all costs especially during the playoffs. Getting another play maker to back up Rondo, or shooter off the bench would help matters immensely. The team is reportedly waiting to see how the Rip Hamilton situation shakes out in Detroit. If he is bought out the Celtics would be first in line for his services however there is no cap room to trade for him without significantly impacting the team’s core. Imagine Rondo’s delight watching Hamilton and Allen crisscrossing on the baseline vying for open jumpers.
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com