Blog Entry

Road to the Finals: Boston Celtics

Posted on: April 7, 2011 2:19 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 4:20 pm
 
Posted by Royce Young



If I were writing this piece a month and half ago, things might be a bit more optimistic. If I were writing this piece a month and a half ago, I think I'd likely be skipping all talk about the first and second rounds and going straight to possible Eastern and even NBA Finals opponents.

But a lot happened over the past 45 days or so. A lot happened that drastically changed the outlook of the 2010-11 season for the Boston Celtics.

You know the story. Danny Ainge decided to trade ubuntu cornerstone and family member Kendrick Perkins away for Jeff Green and a balding 27-year-old. The team was now relying on Shaquille O'Neal's 39-year-old body to heal up and be ready for the grind of the playoffs. The team was banking on Green -- a notoriously inconsistent player -- to consistently provide a scoring punch off the bench and stabilize things on the wing. The team was trying to keep an eye toward the future while still focusing on the now.

Except the now might've been badly damaged.

Since the Perkins trade, the Celtics are 13-9. They're giving up more points per possession, scoring less and losing to teams they almost always handle. Now my personality is anti-panic, so I'm definitely not doing anything of the sort for Boston. But let's face the music here: The team is much different without Perkins. Differently in personality, different in personnel, different in ability. Boston is really missing not just that one-on-one post defender they had in Perk, but what his attitude and intensity brought as well. 

Road To The Finals
I really agree with Bill Simmons, who knows that team better than anyone. They really believed in their group. They believed in the fact nobody had ever beat them when they were at full strength. They walked with a serious swagger, they believed in each other. I'm not exactly sure what message was sent to the team when Ainge traded Perkins, but I don't think it was a positive one. You can spin that deal any way you want -- it was for the future, the Celtics needed a wing, it helps the bench -- the players didn't respond well to it. And the actual team is the most important factor in all of this.

As it stands going into tonight's matchup with the Bulls, Boston sits second in the East, tied with the Heat and three back of the Bulls. Gone is the possibility of the top seed and it'll be a tussle to place second too. The Celtics are headed for an opening round series with either Philadelphia or New York. Fifty days ago, Boston looks superior in every way against both those teams. Now, things look a bit more iffy.

But here's where we pump the brakes.

The Celtics are, in fact, still 54-23. (Know what they were last year when they stormed to The Finals? 50-32 and fourth in the East.) They Celtics are, in fact, still good. They still have Ray Allen. They still have Kevin Garnett, They still have Paul Pierce. They still have Rajon Rondo. Maybe they're missing a big, mean-looking piece in the middle, but it can be overcome.

They defend. They score in crunch time. They're playoff tested. These guys know how to win. They know what it takes. Nobody has quite the same motivation as the Celtics, because nobody else suffered a painful Game 7 defeat in The Finals last June. Doc Rivers talked about how the team has that same excitement for the game and each other that it had in training camp in 2007 when they went on to win it all. This team is still very, very good.

Keep in mind, Perkins had only played in 11 games with Boston this season. The Celtics have experienced most of their success this season without him. But again, that's just without him on the floor. People tend to underestimate things like chemistry. Though Perk might not have been playing, the rest of the team knew he was coming soon, and really just in time for when they really needed him.

Is this Boston group a true Finals contender? Of course. Absolutely they are. The Celtics could trade Ray Allen and Paul Pierce and they'd still have Miami's number just because they're in the Heat's head completely. But no longer can this group take things for granted. They aren't going to cruise past the 76ers or Knicks. And despite having the Heat by the tail, they aren't going to just skip past them either.

Then it's about the Bulls. Doc Rivers and Ainge can tell themselves that getting Shaq back will be an answer in matching up inside with Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer. That might be true. But things are different now for the Celtics. They've lost a little something. An edge, a mentality, a swagger -- whatever. And they may have lost their chance at it all this year too.
Comments

Since: Apr 20, 2009
Posted on: April 7, 2011 7:48 pm
 

Road to the Finals: Boston Celtics

 Listen dont get me wrong, I think Shaq is probably one of top 10 maybe even top 5 players of all time. Shaq was once the most dominate player in the game and used to intimidate whole teams by himself. And with 4 championship rings and 19 seasons now in the leauge, he's had a tremendous career. The reality is that he's not even close to the same player he once was and the simple fact that he's 400lbs and now 39 years old, his body is breaking down and takes much longer to heal. Try being that big and playing a 48 minute basketball game... Any game, let alone a NBA game against guys 15 years younger then you. My point is dont expect much from Shaq, If he even comes back at all.



Since: Dec 10, 2006
Posted on: April 7, 2011 7:35 pm
 

Road to the Finals: Boston Celtics

A good article and a very possible perspective. But another perspective is that Shaq and Krystic are adequate enough to get it done and Green finally steps up and gives them the punch behind Allen and Pierce that they need to sustain pressure on opponents. The Celts were said to be too old last year, this year any team that isn't seriously concerned about playing them is underestimating the intensity of these guys once playoffs start.

Interesting eastern playoff picture this year. Will the Bulls be as good in the playoffs? Can the Heat contend with such a weak supporting cast? Are the Celts really not as good without Perkins? It was yes in the finals last year but this is a new group. Are the Magic and Atlanta really so far behind these three they are not worth talking about? I am not so sure- Arenas is playing his best ball of the year: Magic have some interesting pieces. And Atlanta- young dysfunctional talent in regular season- what if they refocus for playoffs?

Bring on the playoffs!



Since: Jan 20, 2011
Posted on: April 7, 2011 7:31 pm
 

Road to the Finals: Boston Celtics

LOL@

Boy o boy are you in for a rude awakening.  You are putting your faith in Shaq who hasnt won since he was in Miami...and we all know Wade carried that team. 

Also, the officiating was HORRIBLE against Dallas.  Miami was handed that title...

Fast forward, Shaq didnt do squat in Cleveland w James.  You really think Boston is going to have shaq handle every center in the league?  hahahahahahahah

Howard will make him look stupid.
Bynum is the new Shaq, only his FTs are slightly better. 


Chicago will make Boston look stupid.  Boston's age and speed will NOT be able to contain Chicago.  Not at all. 

They got rid of any hopes when they got rid  of Perk.  Worst mistake in a while...and i still dont know why or how this was done.


Miami, Chicago, Orlando can all beat Boston EASY.

The Knicks...if they face Boston the way they are playing now...will give Boston a good run for their money. 

Then in the West...Boston wont be able to be anyone.  Not Dallas.  Not the Spurs...and LEAST OF ALL THE LAKERS lol. 



You are definately a funny guy tho, and i did like that joke "theres no center that can hang w shaq" lol.  I just had to write back to you!

thanks for the LOLz



Since: Dec 4, 2009
Posted on: April 7, 2011 7:19 pm
 

Road to the Finals: Boston Celtics

If Shaq is healthy and playing the Celtics will beat Chicago. The Celtics were dominate when he was in the middle while Perkins was rehabbing. That being said its a huge "if" with Shaq and I'm not betting on him doing anything so I will give Chicago the slight edge in the playoffs. Ainge got a little cute with this trade and it will cost them. Why Ainge is banking on a 39 year old center who is breaking down is beyond me.



Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: April 7, 2011 6:59 pm
 

Road to the Finals: Boston Celtics

Great posts by very educated C fans as C fans are very educated and passionate about their team, which is what makes them great fans. However, the passion is getting in the way here when it comes to what the fans opinions are as far as what the C's roll out for a center. Perk was a PERFECT fit for that team. I never thought Perk was a true center simply based on size and lack of an offensive game, but, man every time the Lakers went against them, that guy was a freaking street bully and just set the tone down low for that team. Perk brought an attitude to the game that I think scared some guys out on the floor, like he was literally going to kick the crap out of them if they even dared come down the lane. The C's have not been able to replace that attitude and toughness with the so called 3 headed monster that is on the DL nor have they been able to replace how well Perk and KG just intimidated other bigs down low. I know the educated C fans that look past the passion will agree that Kristic is simply too soft for that team, or not near as intimidating as Perk and the O'Neals just aren't there anymore physically, way past their primes and Murphey is simply a dud.
I do hope that the C's and the Lakes make it back to the finals again, but, I must say, as a Laker fan, I am very glad the C's no longer have Perkins and have to believe that will be the difference in beating them again in the finals. The Kristic O'Neal combo just does not really have anything that makes me think that the Lakers would not be able to dominate the low post and makes me think that will keep the C's out of the finals, as the Bulls can now match up better with them down low much more than before the worst trade in the Ainge era. If they do happen to get there and meet the Lakes, Bynum should be able to dominate the boards, as he will not have anyone opposing him to get those rebounds, Shaq is just too fat and out of shape, Jermaine would not physically be able to keep up and Kristic, is well, Kristic, nuff said. Good luck though as the playoffs in the East is really up for grabs.



Since: Apr 20, 2009
Posted on: April 7, 2011 6:53 pm
 

Road to the Finals: Boston Celtics

 All im saying is that calling them a three headed monster is going overboard. That remark so much of an exaggeration of the truth that it is actually comical. I mean I laughed for literally 2 minutes strait. Trust me, probably everyone who is a NBA fan and knows the leauge well is cracking up about how absurd that statement is. Im not scared of Kristic, Shaq and Jermaine O'neal. Not one bit... BRING IT!!!!!!!



Since: Feb 10, 2007
Posted on: April 7, 2011 6:18 pm
 

Road to the Finals: Boston Celtics

***  Make that:    Each of em could play 16 minutes   ( which is more than doable for any of em if they are relatively healthy)



Since: Dec 4, 2009
Posted on: April 7, 2011 6:17 pm
 

Road to the Finals: Boston Celtics

Blah Blah, wasn't everyone saying the Celtics were done entering the playoffs last year? YAWN



Since: Feb 10, 2007
Posted on: April 7, 2011 6:16 pm
 

Road to the Finals: Boston Celtics

I didn't say the center position would "dominate"  ... What I AM sayin .. is that having THREE of em will make a HUGE difference.   Each of em could play 18 minutes, thus always keeping a fresh body on the floor.   And THAT would be better than what the Celts had last year in Perk, who got in foul trouble early in almost every game, and whatever scrub had to sub in for him ... either Sheed or Veal Scalabrine ....    The guys that will dominate will be the big 3, as usual ... especially now that they actually have their capable backups in their natural positions ... particularly Big Baby at PF and Green at SF.    This Celtic team hasn't even shown how good it can be yet ... be afraid .. be very afraid!   CELTIC PRIDE!!!



Since: Apr 20, 2009
Posted on: April 7, 2011 5:54 pm
 

Road to the Finals: Boston Celtics

 So let me this strait. A 39 yr old 400 lb always hurt Shaq, Nenad Kristic and Jermaine O'Neal are a three headed monster? You do know this is 2011 right? If so thats the funniest and most ridiculous statement I've heard in quit some time. I think its a decent rotation of bigs at this point in thier respected careers but to call them a three headed monster is a joke. You must be just trying to convince yourself that those guys are going to be that dominate cause, no one else thinks so. Probably not even your own fellow Celtic fans.



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