Think about how different the Celtic landscape was only a week ago. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were back from injuries, Rajon Rondo was a lock to make his first All-Star team and the C’s were gearing up for three straight games against title contenders. The team had set a goal for the next two weeks, according to Paul Pierce: Win every game before the All-Star break.
And now everything appears to be in crisis. The Celtics lost three straight games to other contenders, including two in which they blew double-digit leads. Rashard Lewis beat KG off the dribble at the end of KG’s third game back from injury. The consensus among the NBA cognoscenti is the the Celtics, as presently constructed, may be done as title contenders. The window is closed. Break up the new big three.
While Boston can overcome a lot of physical problems with its smarts, toughness and defensive acumen, one has to wonder whether the recent struggles aren’t the canary in the coal mine.
As noted above, a lot of the Celtics’ season numbers are fine, and I’m sure they still can win 50-plus games and make the second round of the playoffs. Whether they can do anything beyond that with the present roster, however, seems very much in doubt.
The time has come for the Celtics to think long and hard about whether they want to head into the postseason with their main core intact, or whether they want to explore the possibility of trading Allen and his expiring $18.8 million deal for a package of players that’ll make them a better team.
There’s a chance there are no more big games for the Big Three. All together, this run could be over. Ainge has such immense decisions to make, and they must come sooner than later.
It had to happen sometime. Ainge put this team together for a good time not a long time, and now that time has passed. The window is just about closed. Time for Danny to blow it up and start over again.
And all of these stories were written before the credible reporting wild speculation that Paul Pierce might have suffered a broken foot after getting tangled up with Caron Butler on Monday night.
When the Pierce non-news broke, commenters on this site, Red’s and CelticsBlog went into full apocalyptic speculation mode. Would the C’s be more willing to deal Ray Allen if Paul Pierce were out for the season? What about if Pierce were out for two months, giving him only a couple of weeks to get in shape for the playoffs?
It appears we can halt that conversation now that Pierce is officially listed as day-to-day with a mild sprain of his mid-foot, whatever that means.
But what about the larger conversation, the one that is coalescing more and more around the notion that this team just isn’t good enough to win #18?
Is that conversation premature, too?