The New York Knicks and Miami Heat are arguably two of the best 3 teams in the Eastern Conference, at least on paper. After two competitive games against those teams have concluded in loses the Boston Celtics have put the rest of league on notice.
The Celtics will not concede the Eastern Conference without one hell of a donnybrook. Normally a 0-2 start would be reason for panic in, but the truth is this outcome while disappointing is not totally unexpected.
Take into account the following:
- Paul Pierce has not played in either game: While Doc Rivers will not make excuses it is clear the team is missing the captain on both ends of the floor. Pierce is not the savior but he would have had the primary assignments of guarding Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James respectively in the team’s first two games. He certainly would have given both those All-star forwards more to contend with than Sasha Pavlovic has.
- Turnovers: The Celtics have committed an unfathomable 42 turnovers in the first two games. Yes they have a history of being careless with the rock but they have been childlike in their handling off possessions this season. Surely this will improve.
- The bench is still learning: Brandon Bass (16.5 points and 8 rebounds) has been stellar but he must remain confident and consistent. The rest of the bench aside from Marquis Daniels is still getting acclimated to the defensive strategy and crisp Celtics ball movement. Pavlovic is flat out afraid out on the court. Keyon Dooling has been a bit shot happy. Chris Wilcox has yet to find his niche and is now nursing a shoulder injury and Avery Bradley is playing his way towards the Maine Red Claws. They all will learn with the exception of maybe Bradley.
- Help is on the way: Pierce is scheduled to return by the weekend and the newly signed Mickael Pietrus is about 10 days away as the team wants to take every precaution with his injured knee. Once those two return better days and W’s will certainly catapault the Celtics into more familiar territory in the standings.
- The promising rookies haven’t played: The Celtics have yet to give E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson any meaningful playing time which I think has been an oversight by Rivers. Maybe Doc didn’t want to put the pressure on them to perform against such tough opponents to start the season. After getting torched by the Heat’s rookie Norris Cole people are starting to wonder why the Celtics have yet to give the aforementioned any time. Given their preseason performances they should have earned more time than both Pavlovic and Bradley but the season is still young.
There is still plenty of time to turn things around although the season is obviously condensed. The Celtics at 0-2 certainly look better than say the Mavericks or even the Lakers right now. There is life in those old legs and plenty of fight left. For the rest of the Eastern Conference that is a truth many are not ready to contend with.
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