Boston Celtics Playing Opossum… Again
Last year at this time all the experts were saying Boston was too old, weren’t deep enough and just not good enough to make a run in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They were coming off of a rough stretch where they lost a couple games they shouldn’t have, and pretty much everyone wrote them off as dead. Most of the talk was spurred on by Kevin Garnett’s limited minutes and a lack of overall depth.
The Celtics ultimately made the playoffs as the fourth seed with a 50-32 record, which is decent, but considering all eight teams who qualified for the Western Conference playoffs won at least 50 games, it was another reason for the haters to come out. They finished an unremarkable 5-8 over the final 13 games of the 2009-10 regular season and really looked to be coasting into the playoffs, where much wasn’t expected from them. But Boston blew up in the playoffs, beating the Heat, Cavs and Magic en route to losing the NBA Finals in game seven to the Lakers. But nobody expected them to be there at this time last year.
This year, the injury concerns are again a primary focus of why they can’t win over the long haul. Most of the concerns focus on starting point guard Rajon Rondo. Allegedly, per Kevin Garnett, he has some sort of finger injury on his shooting hand which has limited his scoring in a big way, which no one else will confirm.
The numbers speak for themselves and Rondo’s numbers in March would at least indicate he is playing hurt. In 10 games he’s averaging 33.8 minutes which is down from his season average 37.1. He’s only shooting 35% from the field (32/90) compared to 48% on the season. In the first two games of March Rondo had 31 assists. In the other eight he has 53 which puts his average for March at 8.4, down from the NBA leading 11.5 he is averaging all year. What people are really freaking out about is that he is only averaging seven ppg which is strange, because he has never been a scorer and they don’t need him to be. But if a starting point guard has had game point totals of 16, 6, 6, 13, 12, 2, 2, 0, 4, and 9 people tend to freak out which is what’s happening here.
In addition to Rondo, everyone has focused on Shaq’s never ending Achilles injury, Big Baby Davis’ knee injury and the lack of any help from Jermaine O’Neal, but people are forgetting how Nenad Krstic has totally picked up the slack in the meantime. Krstic is averaging 10.8 ppg and 6.5 rpg in only 25.9 minutes a game since joining the C’s. Remember how “crazy” the national media thought Danny Ainge was for making that deal and getting rid of Kendrick Perkins? Perkins has only played four games since, and Nate Robinson played one before having right knee surgery and is no expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Can we give Ainge some credit here people? And that’s without even mentioning Jeff Green.
So, here come the Celtics, "old" and "slow" as ever but quietly tied for first place in the Eastern Conference with the Bulls. If we don’t learn from history we are doomed to repeat it, right? in that case, no one should sleep on the Celtics until the season is over.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/53095191@N08/