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10 things during a transition
1) Above All Else…
Lemme take you back to last March. The Celtics were playing great. They'd just become the first team since 2002 to sweep the Texas triangle. The sun was shining and all was pleasant on the green planet. Then the Celtics brought in PJ Brown and Sam Cassell. In New Orleans on the last game of that otherwise glorious road trip, Sam and PJ took the floor. The Celtics led by 13 points after the first quarter but when the green-neophytes came in, everything fell apart. The new guys both played poorly. The Celtics lost, and they lost the following game too.
One year later the very same thing is happening. Two new players (one who'd been sitting out) are tossed into the race only to falter. This time the Celtics have the further liabilty of Kevin Garnett being absent as well.
Let's pause for a subtotal:
Add 2 new players
minus his back up Scalabrine
minus Tony Allen
= a rough patch.
This is inevitable. It will get better.
2) Not For a While Though
Kevin Garnett is out. He will remain off the floor a while longer. The Celtics have done a miraculous job of winning without him but that balloon seems to have popped. They absolutely definitely unquestionably need the big guy back. Without him they lost to the Clippers and until he comes back they will lose more games.
What does this mean?: it is very possible that the Celtics will not have homecourt advantage in the final two rounds this spring.
Do not panic…
1969 was Bill Russell's last season. (Sam Jones too.) The Celtics limped into the playoffs 4th in the East. They had to win on the road in every series. That is exactly what they did, culminating in what was arguably the greatest game in franchise history when the celebratory balloons remained in the rafters of the LA Forum while the Russell and his friends celebrated their 11th title below.
This team is like that team: veteran, poised, cool under pressure, capable of winning anywhere. The 2008-2009 Boston Celtics can win the championship no matter where the games are played.
4) More Than the Minimum
Stephon Marbury signed for more than the minimum. This is huge. HUGE!!!
What this means is the Celtics ownership is not among those that are dumping salary at all costs. It means the Celtics will STILL spend to win. Way to go Wyc!
5) Rondo's "Bad Game"
People tell me Rondo had a bad game against Indiana. It must be true since I've heard it from so many different places.
All I can say is Rondo had 17 assists. I mean Chauncey Billups had a bad game against Boston last week and his stats read: 5 assists, 4 turnovers, and three points. So if Rondo has a bad game and gets 17 assists that should tell you something. It was probably the best "bad game" in the history of the sport.
(A sidenote: Jim O'Brien's entire defense was set up to prevent penetration. In other words he was scheming to shut off Rondo and Pierce from driving. You couple that with the Celtics getting creamed on the boards which effectively cut off the Boston fastbreak and it's not surprising that Rondo has such a "bad game.")
6) Ray Allen
Ray had a bad game too, against Detroit. I'm sure everybody's noticed but Mr. Jesus has been keeping this team flying all season. He's been the Celtics most consistent player. Last year his play was spotty. It's amazing what two sound ankles will do for you.
In his entire 13 year career Stephon Marbury has played 18 playoff games. He will likely surpass 18 games in the coming playoffs alone.
I said this before: the new Portland NBDL franchise should be called The Maine Yaks (maineyaks). It's the only way to keep from having a moose as a mascot.
Having a local minor league affiliation is fabulous idea. We overly exuberant sorts who pay an unhealthy amount of attention to the team will benefit from regular eyeball reports from Portland. Former
Celtics assistant coach Jon Jennings who's fronting the Yaks always seemed like a very good guy.
The NBDL has got to get some other eastern teams going as well, otherwise the travel will be obscene.
I always hated the word "cancer" being used to label a player. It's part of the landscape though.
Stephon Marbury's been described with that term. All I can say is, so was Robert Parish and Dennis Johnson. The Celtics have a strong history of successful oncology.
Now that injuries have put the Celtics own seeding in doubt and seeing that the rest of the East is in constant movement, trying to figure who they will draw in the postseason is impossible.
It doesn't matter. The Celtics are battling themselves, not anyone else. Above all they need to be healthy. If that happens they can take anyone they face anywhere they play them. Detroit in the first round? Fine. Then Orlando? No problem. Cleveland and LA on the road? Too bad for them… as long as the Celtics are healthy.