Saturday, March 9, 2013

Why You Should Like This Team

The Boston Celtics have been a tight nit unit ever since Kevin Garnett arrived in July of 2007. Garnett along with Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo are the only remaining players from the 2008 championship roster, but each year has still been special. However this season seems to carry a feeling of "Ubunto" that hasn't been felt since KG went down with his knee injury in February of 2009, drowning Boston's high chances of going back-to-back.

The run to game seven of the 2010 NBA Finals was close to that feeling. It is hard to explain because this team is far different from the championship team in so many ways, yet the same. Without continuing to bash Rondo, lets say Boston's season began January 27th with a home win over the Heat.  The Celtics are 14-4, so why is this?

Boston is back to the basics like they were in 07-08. Remember back then Rondo was not who he is now. He was a shy second year point guard who would often look to defer to his hall of fame teammates. When I say defer I do not mean my dishing assists, I mean by allowing them to be themselves. Although his scoring was only a few PPG lower than it is now, Rondo was only averaging 29.9 minutes and a mere 5.1 assists per contest. Those numbers pale in comparison to his 37.4 minutes and 11.1 assists per game while he was in the lineup this season.

The success the Celtics enjoyed when they won their championship is based off of the same thing that it is now, featuring the immortal Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Despite what you want to say about Ray Allen, this was Pierce and KG's team and now is again (part of the reason Ray left anyway). The effort to make the Celtics "Rondo's Team" failed miserably, and when Rondo got hurt is was back to Plan B, the old guys. The problem is Plan B should have been Plan A all along! Pierce (primarily) is still capable of carrying this team offensively, and Garnett (primarily) is able to do the same defensively.

Now yes, despite the two first ballot hall of famers still being superstars, they have lost a (small) step. But Rondo is not the missing piece to pick up the slack. In 07-08 the Celts were often much better off with Tony Allen hounding the opposing ball handler as Avery Bradley is doing. Bradley is probably doing an even better job of that and is surely a better shooter and ball handler than Allen was.

James Posey was key off the bench in 07-08, he was just as important on both ends of the floor too which is hard to find. Now one year after open heart surgery Jeff Green appears to be finding his stride and doing the same for his team. And much like Bradley, Green is probably doing a better job than his predecessor. THESE ARE THE THINGS THAT MAKE UP FOR PIERCE AND GARNETT HAVING A FEW MORE MILES ON THE METER!

Now what they are missing is that Kendrick Perkins type presence. But in this era of small ball where Miami is the team to get through, that force is no longer required... until you face off against the west but lets worry about that later.

The bottom line is that this team has another month to maintain stride and learn what this new Celtics team is all about before they make another (and maybe their last) run at the finals. I don't want to make Boston out as favorites by any means, but this team is going to surprise people. My money is on them finding themselves right back in a game 7 in Miami... and this time with the much needed help of Bradley and Green.

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