Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Doc Rivers has made no secret about wanting the top seed in the East.
Still, you don't get that feeling when you watch the way his team seems to continue to sputter along with stretches of strong play followed by periods of poor play.
"It's important to be healthy," said Rivers, whose team has now slipped to the No. 3 seed behind Chicago and Miami. "We would like to get No. 1 or No. 2. But we'd really like to be healthy."
"With us, it comes down to just being healthy," Glen Davis told CSNNE.com in an interview earlier this week. "That's it. We know when we're healthy, we're good enough to beat anybody, with or without home-court advantage."
Last year, it was clear that Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge didn't want to risk the health of players in pursuit of the top seed. Kevin Garnett was on limited minutes. Anyone with an injury was given time off.
But this year it's different. Exactly which one of the core players is playing hurt? And who is rushing back from injury? Geez, Shaq has been out two months with an injury that started as "day-to-day."
The Big 4 are healthy and even with a mediocre bench are good enough to beat most teams. I don't see how health has anything to do with this current slide. For the most part, crappy play is to blame. Sure having Shaq and JO would help. But that's a BS excuse.
The top 2 seeds have slipped from the Celtics grasp. And it's because the Celtics have lost focus and lack intensity. The Globe's Gary Washburn agrees:
Doc Rivers appears even more distressed than usual and tried to protect his players, claiming fatigue. But the Celtics had two days off before their victory Thursday in San Antonio and Rivers used 10 players last night, including Jermaine O’Neal, who grabbed just one rebound in 16 minutes. The fact is the Celtics are a disjointed group and have become more of a tease than actual threat to win the Eastern Conference.
Teams such as Chicago, Miami, Denver, and the Lakers have come to Atlanta and pounded the Hawks with little resistance. And the Celtics were putting on a similar show, but absent-mindedly forgot everything that earned them such third-quarter status.
On Page 2, a sliver of hope that Nads injury isn't serious.
Sasha Pavlovic, Krstic’s best friend on the team, said Krstic showed concern when he talked about the injury.
“He’s worried but hopefully it’s nothing,’’ Pavlovic said. “From his experience, he said it doesn’t look that bad. He’ll know more in the morning. Hopefully it’s nothing. We need him on this team.’’
Forced to make an educated guess from afar, I would say Krstic's injury is serious enough to end his season. I hope this comment from Pavlovic is true.
The rest of the links:
Herald – Back to back flak | Celtics off in Zaza land | Globe – Celtics fizzle at finish | CSNNE – Celtics crushed by more physical Hawks | Hawks still see Celtics as team to beat | Rondo kicked it back into gear | ESPN Boston – Rapid Reaction: Hawks 88 – Celtics 83 | WEEI – Celtics can't rebound |