Post-game Reactions

With the Celtics rounding back into 2010-11 form (excellent defense, mediocre offense, poor rebounding) Danny Ainge will soon face a decision. Are the Celtics good enough to go three or four rounds deep in the playoffs with the kinds of upgrades he can pull off in the next six weeks? And what upgrades might he pursue?

Right now, the C’s are probably a second round out to Miami or Chicago. At absolute best, they lose in the conference finals, but even that may be a stretch, given the age of the core players and the weaknesses noted above. It’s a safe bet that Ainge has a less romantic view of a final, desperate run for this core than many fans, especially if he believes the outcome is, at best, going a couple of rounds deep. It’s bloodless, but I think Ainge has to seriously augment or disassemble this core.

The real gap is at the center position. You’d be forgiven for having doubts about Avery Bradley and E’Twaun Moore’s abilities to handle high-pressure playoff minutes but finding a Sam Cassell or Stephon Marbury is a lot easier than finding a mid-season big, as Mikki Moore made clear a couple of years ago. A center that could haul in some rebounds, trigger the fast break, protect the rim and score a little bit would be significant.

There’s a possibility of organic improvement from within. Chris Wilcox can probably move his 17.3 DRR back up to somewhere around 22, which would help. It’s less certain that Kevin Garnett can repeat his renaissance of last year. He’s slipped from a 28.7 DRR to a 22.5. That may be his new normal and his offense is no more assertive than last year, save for the three-point shooting. Of course, Jermaine O’Neal remains Jermaine O’Neal, which is to say that if Ainge is counting on him to be available in the spring, he hasn’t learned the lessons of last season.

The challenge for Ainge is that he has precious few assets to move in return for upgrades, without touching his core. He could move any of Moore, Bradley and JaJuan Johnson. Packaged with a draft pick, they have some value. But probably not enough to get what this team needs.

Chris Kaman remains a viable, if unlikely, possibility if the Hornets eventually buy him out.

Beyond that, there are few obvious fixes for what ails the Celtics, unless Ainge is inclined to move Rajon Rondo and seriously alter the core of the team in mid-season. That didn’t work last year with the OKC trade. But that was more about the specific pieces he received and lost than the act of making a deal. It certainly wouldn’t be beyond Ainge to try something like that again.

The numbers don’t lie. Despite better depth and a younger roster, the Celtics aren’t materially better than they were last season, and that wasn’t good enough.

Something has to be done.

One way or another.

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Ryan DeGama

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  • SteveB

    I still don't think this is what will prevent them from winning it all. Who out there is going to win the championship because of their center? Who really has a dominant center anymore anyway? If we believe OKC is a contender with Perk then aren't we getting the same kind of play from JO and Wilcox? I believe young and atheletic teams have given the Celtics the most problems the last couple years. With the addition of Bass, Wilcox and hopefully JJ maybe that will change. Rebounding has been one of the weak points and they still need to team rebound. They have been doing that lately, surprisingly outrebounding many recent opponents. I just don't believe there is any big man out there worth giving up the assets I believe the team would have to give up.

  • Banania

    I may be the perfect idiot but I still prefer to keep this core and lose in the semi-finals than blow out to have a chance to become a title contender (yeah, today we are not). Why ? Because I like the idea that the association of the Boston Celtics is different.

    A franchise that respects the players that bring it a 17th title, more than 20 years after the 16th. A franchise that considers its players more than pokemon cards that you can trade at the playground of a primary school. A franchise that salutes the energy they give in every match for five years. Theses future HOF deserve it.

    PS : sorry for my english, i’m french (ah!)

    • sonofauerbach

      props bra…..the reason I literally fight people for this team is the brotherhood and loyalty. No one can compare when it comes to class and no one has ever played the game the way the Boston Celtics have. Ainge is a snake and a faggot I really hate this dude, dont know how he was allowed to manage this team in the first place. He was cheap snake as a player who loathed Bird. Auerbach laid the foundation for this team, you play as men and lose as men. I'm happy if the Big 3 going out losing again but at least I knew they gave it everything they had just like Russell, Cousy, Jones, Havlicek, Cowens, Maxwell, Bird, McHale, Chief, DJ, and the rest of the retired numbers hanging in the rafters.

      • 1. you literally fight people about the topic of the celtics? that's not something to be proud of

        2. language

    • Kafel

      Very good point. I completely agree with You.

  • skeeds

    This, I think, is a weird situation. The center issue doesn't worry me at all. Between JO, Wilcox and KG it can be solved somehow. I say it's a weird situation, because we are not good enough to win it all, yet there's probably nothing we can do about it. Minor upgrades would help, for example a trade that would give us a better backup 3. Still, the whole structure of this group can only get you so far. It would need 1-2 big moves to really make us better. Kaman, and a backup 3 better than Marquis. Can we do that? probably not. To not have landed Kaman by now, Ainge must've tried the "promising rookie+pick" package and failed. Also, for a major move to help, without destroying the core, it has to be something like Ray Allen+? for a borderline allstar like Granger, or Iguadala. And that's still a huge risk.

    So what can we do? Pull a minor move that gives us a safety for JO, and polish our game with what we have. I'm certain that this group, playing at top level, can eliminate any team. Can we eliminate the Heat, then the Bulls, and then OKC? I doubt it. But we have few other options right now…

  • zach

    Continuity is huge this season. The Celtics benefit from a team b-ball IQ (unselfishness on offense, team defense) that is off the charts. Trading one of the existing peices (e.g., Rondo) for an upgrade at center would not help them this year or in the future. I disagree with the championship or bust mentality; let them win games this year and anything can happen in the playoffs, then next year you start fresh with all the cap space.

    • aaron

      Yea, the last three weeks with most of the team playing together has shown exactly what continuity this team needs.
      Two weeks with a team that is almost entirely new to the system isn't going to come out 10-0.
      Leave them alone, they are getting better as a team, they are winning as a team, and they will more as a team.
      Championship, probably not, but I would like to cheer for this team now, and let Danny and Doc recruit next year with a lot of cap space.

  • Kc

    Reminder that this about NOT blowing it up but rather cobbling a move out of picks/youngsters in order to boost the Big 4’s shot at going to the ECF or NBA Finals. Me? I’d gladly trade anyone outside the big 4 to add a center who’d effectively make this team a similar version of last years Mavs. Go for it Danny!

    • sonofauerbach

      go for it danny maybe we can get jeff green?

  • Mike

    They have better depth and a younger roster!
    The Heat aren't much better either remember. If you remember those heat losses last year came down to a few plays, it's not like they were blown out. Those were close games and winnable down the stretch. If we can get Dwight Howard great but just a little improvement here and there might be enough to tip the balance and swing a series in the Celtics favor.

  • ripsonics

    you know what would be cool..

    pick up Center, Greg Monroe from Detroit. He's good. and is only 3Mil a year.

    I know that his will cause controversy, but i honestly have not seen enough of the "get-it-done" rondo for me to really be confident in his play down the road. I don't think the answer is trade rondo for monroe, cause that really kills the future in my opinion… But I have just not seen enough from him (inability to shoot.. from anywhere but a lay up, poor free throw shooting, inconsistent defense) to really think he is what this team needs moving forward.

    Good player with a lot of swag and heart, but I just don't see enough of it on a consistent basis. Give me all the thumbs down you want rondo lovers, but you can't help to think that I am somewhat right.

    Go C's

    • skeeds

      Why can't we help than think you're somewhat right?
      He is scoring 4 points more on average than last year, shooting over 50% from the field and averaging 11 assists. In 15 games he's had a triple double and 4 double doubles, scored over 30. He might not be playing at his highest level, but it's not like he's slumping.

      I'm not a "Rondo lover", I realize he is a flawed star. He remains, still, one of the best playoff performers I've seen, and by far the best PG of this generation when it comes to the postseason. A dozen of games this year, where he wasn't even bad, are really not enough to convince me that he's not worth it.

      • zach

        He has flaws, but watching him this year he seems even stronger and faster than in the past, his passing is amazing, and he fits in perfectly with this group of guys. No reason to trade him now unless you bring back another star.

      • ripsonics

        Yeah I hear you on those points. For sure a good playoff performer, but I will say that I do not think we have seen enough of him this season to make an argument that he has turned any corner. And lets not forget the teams record while he was on the floor, and the record with him off it. That point is by no means the end all be all, I am just saying that his numbers may have been good, but we didn't beat anyone.

        I like Rondo. I think when he plays his best, he is really really good – Top-5 pg for sure. However, to me, the lack of improvement in the jumper, the free throw shooting and the lack of consistency in both those categories, among a couple others is what really bothers me about him. He has had shooting woes his entire career, and we have yet to see him make a serious improvement in that area. At the very least, a consistent improvement.

        You make a good point skeeds, and I definitely don't think he is slumping.. but (broken record) he isn't consistent enough for me to be really confident in his play. Thats all I was trying to say.

        • skeeds

          Yeah, consistency is indeed a problem with Rondo. I often feel sorry for the guy, because he's obviously such a hard worker. He has already reached a very high level in every aspect of his game except shooting, and coming into the season, he looked at least a bit more comfortable, and stable with his shooting form.
          And then he injures his shooting hand. I mean come on! Last year he was posting Bob Cousy numbers and then went down, ended up playing hurt half the season.

          He has to manage to stay healthy, although he's just the kind of guy who never will, like Wade. If he wants to prove he can be trusted with the future of this team, he needs to have a year better than 2010.

  • Ryan DeGama

    Just to clarify… a Rondo package could address things beyond the center spot, but shooting/scoring at the PG spot. e.g. Nash/Gortat for Rondo/JO. Purely theoretical but you get the idea.

    • Ryan DeGama

      *including* shooting/scoring at the PG spot.

    • CG12

      Oh, man, that would be tough to turn down. I love Gortat. And Nash is obviously phenomenal. But where would we be post big-3?

      • skeeds

        Gortat is the sh!t man, I love him too. Proper center with proper moves. Nash, I think wouldn't survive.The first time he loses his guy on defense, KG's gonna rip his head off…
        On the plus side, Nash is the coolest dude in the universe, not to mention he'll add some points to that "oldest team to play basketball EVER" record we're trying to break!

  • billyzane

    all we need is the current roster and for david stern to die before the playoffs.then hopefully there will be nobody instructing the refs to make sure lebron is in the finals because its good for business.

  • CG12

    I think this team is definitely better than last year's team. It basically comes down to the bench. Bradley-Pietrus-Bass-Wilcox vs. West-Green-Baby-Krstic? Hell, yes. This team is the best defensive team in the league, hands down. PP and Ray are holding their level of play. JO is JO. KG seems diminished a bit this year, but still does KG things – keeping the ball moving, hitting Js, quarterbacking the D. Rondo is a major wild card. We aren't sure what he is going to bring the rest of this year. And he was obviously seriously injured for the last half of the Miami series last year. And we have the Stiemer this year!

    Seriously, I liked this team early on, and I feel like people are sleeping on them. Miami and Chicago are good, but flawed teams. Ainge should ride it until the wheels fall off, and re-tool in the off-season, just like they have been planning for years.

  • French

    Danny's head was definitely blown up in this photo right? Like, am i seeing things? The more I look at it the more I think it's been stretched or something…

    • sonofauerbach

      nah he's just a fat bitch

  • Anthony

    Am curious why all the DA hate? Outside of the Perkins trade (which I think is still defensible), what other DA trade went horribly wrong? He put the Big Three together, traded for/drafted Rondo, Perkins, Delonte, TA, Big Baby, and Powe (Gomes, AB, Etwaun, JJJ, Erden). Barring the KG injury in 2009 and Perks injury in 2010, Celts couldve won 3 championships in a row. How can you fault DA for that?

    In terms of this season, I say keep Pierce, Ray, KG, Bass, Pietrus for sure. Keep Rondo, Etwaun, JJJ unless a great deal is available. The Nash/ Gortat for Rondo/JO trade that someone mentioned above seem like a pretty interesting scenario. Wilcox and AB are starting show their contributions but also have some trade value.

    That leaves:
    – JO – I wasnt sold on him last yr and not sold on him this yr. $6+ mil for 5pt 5rb…. not worth it. Rather have Rasheed back.
    – Dooling – I rather give the mins to Etwaun at 1/5th of the price.
    – Pavlovic, Stiemsma, Marquis – would anyone be upset if they were even traded?

  • LACelticFan

    Have you heard the latest rumor……Rondo for Pau Gasol. A 25 year old allstar PG for a 32 year old allstar C. Said there was significant interest from both teams regarding this issue. I just don't see how giving up our allstar PG who is 25!!!!!! can be a good thing. Especially for another aging star, just for one last go around. Was said that DA doesn't think he can build around his mercurial PG for the future. I dont know about that as Johnson looks great(small capsule of time albeit), Green will be back. Steimsma can only get better now his contract is guaranteed.(And didnt we lean our lesson after giving up so quickly on Erdin) I would be pissed if DA did this deal and I live in LA.

    • beantown85

      As long as LA and Boston are both in contention, there will never be a trade between those two teams. If I'm remembering correctly, the last trade was with Chris Mihm going to LA. Anybody who makes that rumor up, or believes it is far from a knowledgeable basketball fan.

      • Anthony

        LMAO… wow. Boston would demand DA's head if that trade ever happens. To even think about trading what's supposed to be your future, away to your arch-nemesis. Celts do not need another past his prime big man that plays soft. Cant even see it happening if they swap Gasol to Houston for 2 players (ie Kevin Martin, Louis Scola, Dalembert, or whoever else is on their roster).

        Maybe the rumor is started by that dude that keep posting about trading for Thabeet, Williams, and other scrubs.