While President Obama focuses on the formidable task of reshaping the nation’s healthcare system, the Celtics need to focus on getting themselves healthy. We all knew that injuries would be a likely problem with this team heading into the season. Doc Rivers has yet to devise a game plan this year with a fully equipped roster. The real question then becomes: What happens when they’re all back and healthy?
It’s the incessant rehabilitation, rest, ice, compression and elevation of Kevin Garnett’s knee. It’s Glen Davis practicing his newly acquired MMA skills on his best friend and subsequently fracturing his thumb, thus setting his season (and impressive development) back a few months. It’s Tony Allen jacking up his ankle and going from the doghouse of Celtic Nation to a mere fill-in for trade purposes. It’s the human Swiss army knife (also known as Marquis Daniels) tearing a thumb ligament and being shelved for six weeks. It’s the sudden attack of a knee infection that cost them their captain, Paul Pierce for five games. It’s a sore hamstring that even kept Rajon Rondo out for a game. It’s Rasheed Wallace who needed some quality time in street clothes with a sore foot.
There’s lots of chatter about Doc employing the KC Jones methodology for divvying up minutes. As in: ride the starters as long as you possibly can. Assistant coach Tom Thibodeau took Doc’s philosophy to a whole new level during last Monday’s loss to the Hawks at home. That was by the way, the main reason why the Celtics coughed up a double-digit third quarter lead at home. Bennett Salvatore didn’t receive the Tommy Award that night, but Doc is certainly going to do his best to earn one.
Well all know that the starting five will get their typical burn. We know Sheed will continue to get starters minutes as a sixth man. The only thing to discern is what happens when Marquis Daniels gets back, especially with Tony Allen finally showing some semblance of a reliable NBA role player. The logical plan would be to have a second unit consisting mostly of TA, Quisy, Sheed, Eddie House and Glen Davis.
Think about that for a moment. That bench is right up there with any other team in the league and could hold down the fort against a lot of starter/bench player concoctions during any given game. Instead of seeing the Celtics starters sludge their way through the fourth game in five nights, they can toss out a lineup that’s capable of hitting the accelerator. BUT…
There’s always a catch, isn’t there? We know Doc’s incessant and mysterious love for Brian Scalabrine. Granted he’s filled in admirably with the handful of recent injuries. But if he’s playing meaningful minutes, it’s not a good thing (see: playoffs, 2009). At any rate, the Celtics have been playing like they’ve been both exhausted and bored simultaneously. Real championship caliber teams seem to go after it much harder after the all-star break. The Celtics will need to start a few weeks earlier when they play back-to-backs at Orlando and at Atlanta. Oh, and there’s that game on the 31st at the Garden but I can’t remember who they’re playing (I think a certain team from LA). Perhaps an even bigger task for this healthcare reformation project doesn’t lie within the musculoskeletal section.
This team needs some major revamping in their plan from the neck up. No, they don’t need a collective lobotomy (although that may help at this point). This team needs some major overhaul mentally. Essentially they have been getting off to strong starts and solid leads heading into the half. Then for some reason they cash out. Maybe they feel entitled to simply coast for the second half. Maybe they expect their opponent-of-the-night to bow down to them, well, just because they are the Boston Celtics. Whatever the case may be, it’s clearly making fans feel like a collection of Bill Murray clones (and I’m not referring to his role in Space Jam).
Groundhog Day occurs annually in early February. Clearly the Celtics decided to start to celebrate (and re-celebrate) that holiday a few weeks earlier. They play their New Big 3 Era trademark defense and run their offense beautifully for the first half. In the second half they become Mr. Hyde to their first half Dr. Jekyll. In the aftermath we hear and read all sorts of quotes of how they still feel like they’re an elite team. Once they get everyone back and healthy, the league will be on notice, etc. Wash, rinse, repeat, “Reload.” Apparently they continually forget to “Reload” the ubuntu at halftime.
So Doc, I’ll save you from attempting to replicate the daunting task that Obama is planning for health care reform for the country. Just pick up an original Nintendo console and pop in Konami’s timeless classic that is Contra. Enter the code with the controller: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start. That will give you all the lives you’ll need to battle the rest of the way. It might be your best prescription because nothing else seems to be working.