Five games. Just one back-to-back (vs. Milwaukee). A (mostly) healthy roster. A chance for recovery.
There’s been a lot of understandable doom and gloom over the past couple weeks as injuries, suspensions, personal absences, and overall just atrocious play has taken its toll on this Celtics roster. Bright spots have been few and very far between.
Yet, it’s easy to forget just how recently the C’s were here before. Weeks ago, the Big Three and company were 5-9, the bottom appeared to be falling out and the team responded with a 9-1 stretch to keep the rumors at bay for the time being.
After dropping seven of their past eight games, the panic meters are back on at full blast. The trade rumors are flying. Yet, a simple fact remains. The Celtics have been playing at far less than full strength, and could very easily get back on track here with five very winnable games upcoming in the next week. Confidence building games if you will. While they aren’t likely to win all five, they will be favored in all five, and with the margin of error smaller than ever, I’d like to believe this crew will rise to the challenge.
It’s make or break time for this squad as we all know. Two and a half weeks to prove to Danny Ainge blowing it up right now isn’t necessarily the best thing to do. Barring winning out until the trade deadline on March 15th, there won’t be a ton they can do to keep their president of basketball operations from making a deal, but they need to make it tougher decision for him.
After the failure in last year’s deals, you can bet anything Danny does here must get Doc’s stand of approval on any core-shifting deals. And if Rivers still sees some progress or promise with the roster he has currently assembled, he’s not going to let Ainge blow it up without a fight.
The road back starts Tuesday nights. Moral victories will no longer suffice. Outside of Chris Wilcox and Jermaine O’Neal, (health statuses unclear) the C’s will be rested and healthy. Boston is four games back of the stumbling Atlantic Division leaders (Sixers are losers of five straight themselves) and wouldn’t you know, Boston faces them next Wednesday right after this “winnable” five-game stretch.
Will that contest be one of the last games this core has together, or will the train be back on the tracks at this point, making this a game where Boston could pull within a game or two of the division lead? I’m not counting that possibility out and neither should you.