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You Can’t Win A Title In November

 

What we need here is patience.

By now, we all should have learned the lesson this Celtics team teaches every year: its regular season performance is in few ways predictive of what will happen come the playoffs.

Here’s Brendan after a particularly dispiriting loss against the Raptors last Feburary:

I literally considered that a terrorist plot was afoot and some nefarious characters were releasing some chemical weapon into the arena that made the Celtics so sluggish. Like carbon monoxide poisoning that was only activated by people wearing green. The lack of effort was that ridiculous.

A few days later, Hayes basically threw up the white flag when considering trade possibilities:

Without sacrificing Rondo or the Big Three, any pieces the Celtics could actually add or trade for wouldn’t be enough to put them over the top, so there’s no point in buying. Either keep the team together for the fans or start building for the future, but don’t pull the trigger on a deal unless Otis Smith is involved.

And after the Celtics got blown out by Detroit, I was ready to throw Lucky from the train:

Keeping the core together for one final run makes a lot of emotional sense, even if we know they’re unlikely to do any damage in the playoffs. But now at 15-15, and tied for 8th in the conference, going even two rounds deep is hardly a sure thing. The Celtics have played an easy schedule to date, and have yet to take a major injury hit. The schedule is about to get really tough and bodies are going to tire. They could play better the rest of the season and still see their record fall under .500.

A few weeks later, the Celtics moved Kevin Garnett to center, slipped Avery Bradley into the starting lineup and tore up the league.

In 2010-11, the Celtics were title favorites in mid-January. They were huge on the frontline. Kevin Garnett was rebounding like his younger self and Kendrick Perkins was about to come back from injury. Then Shaquille O’Neal got hurt, Danny Ainge dealt for a barely comatose Jeff Green and the season went irretrievably off the rails when Dwayne Wade tore Rajon Rondo’s arm out of its socket in the second round of the playoffs.

The year before that, the C’s punted half the season getting ready for the playoffs and then, as fans and observers went completely ballistic (don’t make me go copy-paste your comments!), they skipped their way to the Finals.

Things can change. And they will.

It’s understandable if you have serious concerns about the play of Green and Courtney Lee. You’d be forgiven if you were waking up in the middle of the night screaming about the team defense. And yeah, the rebounding remains a disaster and no reasonable assessment of its potential improvement gets the Celtics to a championship level.

But a lot can happen after a 6-6 start. Let’s see where we are on Christmas.

Then — I promise — we can really start to panic.

  • Swissflix

    Now that’s a positive and inspiring article! Agree on everything. Patience!

  • C's fan from Taiwan

    yup! just be patience!
    our goal is win 16 games in playoffs!

  • JR99

    But every year is different. Back in 2010, when most were estimating the team's chances at very close to zero, I was able to see that they COULD rise to a much higher level, because it was there, from time to time. I.e., their ceiling still seemed high to me, even if most of the time they were playing at or near the level of their floor.

    I don't have those impressions this year. I see now that KG has slowed down — just a little, but enough to make a big difference in the overall defense of the team. Same with PP. Rondo's better than ever, that's true and good, but not enough, as everyone knows. Gotta have our Celtics defense back, and I don't see, right now, how that's gonna happen.

    For that reason, I'm getting more and more pessimistic about this team's chances. But if they could show us — even just ONCE — that they can play the defensive end up to the standard they've set over the years (since 08), I'll be changing my tune right quick. So I'm crossing my fingers and toes…. but I'm not hopeful, not this time around.

    • FrenchJujuBean

      The article says that Xmas is a deadline to see if this team will end up being good or not. I think it's a little early. Xmas is around the corner and A. Bradley hasn't been back yet. All-Star game is, I think, a better time mark.

      Now I don't necessarily agree with everything you said. Pierce averages more than 19 points per game, which is not a downgrade compared to the previous years. Still very effective. KG is saving energy. But mostly, this is almost a whole new team that we have, and we're 6-6. It's not like we're 2-10 or something. They still managed to keep it at .500. 70 games remaining. A. Bradley is not the savior, but he still has to play, which is a good thing to look forward to. Courtney Lee is about to wake up. I think there is a chance that you change your tune quickly. The first line of this article says "patience".

      Cheer up pal, this team is going to bloom sooner than later.

      On another note, there is now no way to deeply think that the Perkins deal was a good one. What the heck happened inside Ainge's mind on that day? The real weakness of this team has only been rebounding, and the guy trades the only legit inside presence that we have. For what? Jeff Green…it wouldn't make any sense to even say that they wanted to rebuild around Jeff Green, like some people said. Even with his OKC stats, you don't rebuild around a 7th man who averages 15 points/game. You don't!! Paul Pierce replacement? Yea, sure…. I know they wanted to get Harden originally; which would have been understandable. Perkins was asking for 8million/year. We said no. Now we're paying an almost useless kid 9million….. I know that story got old but sometimes when you give it a very late afterthought, it really hurts.

      Anyway, go Celtics.

      • The Cardinal

        Perkins would be more useless to us than Green will ever be, and I was never sold on Green at 9 mill/4 years. 7mill/3? Roughly the same as Bass? Maybe.

        We won a championship in '08 despite Perk, not because his contributions were irreplaceable (although they were/are appreciated). In crunch time 2008, KG was at the 5 and some combination of Posey/Baby/Powe was at the 4. Arguably, Powe and Big Baby coming off the bench was what made our front line formidable when KG rested and so far this year, we just haven't found anyone to reliably duplicate their efforts (and in case you're wondering, at this point in their respective careers, I prefer Bass to Baby)..

        I'm not knocking Perk the individual, but I find it amazing that people forget that out of 30 starting centers in the NBA both then and now, Perk would probably be voted number 30 for about 6 years running! People also forget that 5 years ago, KG, Pierce, and Ray were truly in their prime and were truly a "Big 3" that was very, very, very good – as good as the "Big 3" billing suggested. But for the KG and Powe injuries the following season, there would have been a second title and no, not having Perk a few season's later did not prevent us from winning that one.

        • JR99

          But it has been argued — reasonably, I think — that it was the loss of Perk in game 6 that cost us the championship in game 7 of the '10 Finals…. just couldn't get a rebound in crunch time. In general, yeah, Perk never was and prob never will be a great center. But worse than Green?? That's hard to see right now. Maybe, if JG somehow blossoms (magically)… but right now, no… right now I'd rather have Perk… because this team will always find its offense; Perk would give us a better shot at finding our AWOL defense, plus a few more rebounds would be useful.

          • The Cardinal

            Oh man – Perk's not even a good rebounder, let alone a great one. In Perk's best year in Boston, he MAY have averaged slightly over 7 rebounds/game, but it was mostly between 4 – and 6 per game during his stint here. This year in OKC, he's averaging around 4.5 per game. Blocked shots? Perk gets blocked at a greater rate than he blocks others – always has! Wilcox can give you Perk's numbers and more in an equal amount of minutes – he simply isn't broad enough to keep from getting pushed off the block by the Duncan's and Monroe's of the world.

            The legend of Perk has grown to be so very much more than what the real Perk contributed on the court. Perk has become a metaphor for all that is wrong with the C's. In actuality if Perk were here, we we would be screaming at Danny to trade him – even if it were for someone like Darko or Jason Collins, LOL! If we had resigned Perk, he would be our perfect amnesty player – I truly believe this.

          • JR99

            Points very well taken. I can't disagree really with anything you said. Perk was/is overrated, and our memory of him is no doubt more positive than it should be.

            Now, after all that… I still don't think I'd prefer having Jeff Green AS HE IS RIGHT NOW on the roster, as opposed to Perk. Perk was/is a reliable presence in the paint, and I'm pretty sure if he were here we wouldn't be watching opponents strolling down the middle of the damn paint daintily putting the ball through the net almost at will. He was also an excellent pick-setter, and hard worker. On the other side, we have Jeff Green, who cannot be relied on FOR ANYTHING right now. The key to this point, tho, is that this comparison is being made to JG HAS HE IS RIGHT NOW… not as we hope he will be, certainly not as Danny thought he'd be, etc., etc.

          • The Cardinal

            I actually agree with you about Green – I really hope that Green does not become Danny's Darko (now that the original has departed)! While he is undoubtedly athletic, I've never seen any indication that he is a "basketball player" and for 9 mil/year… well <sigh>…I dunno. I think Green is a complementary piece at best, and the sooner Danny and Doc accept that, the sooner we can utilize him in a role that helps the team and not hurts it.

            First, stop running plays for him – he's simply not a reliable-enough go to scorer, and the offense stagnates or turns the ball over when he becomes the focus. Secondly, turn that athleticism loose by using him, along with Barbosa, Wilcox, Lee and Big Baby Jr. – uh, I mean Sullinger – to pressure the ball by pressing, and to really focus on becoming a fast break unit (which Doc still hasn't found a way to do despite the ongoing talk about becoming more uptempo and "pace"). Thirdly, let Barbosa do what he does – a score first mentality player on the second unit is a breath of fresh air, and one who gets to the rim and the free throw line is the one we should build the offense around.

            The dilemma for Doc (and Danny) is they signed Terry and Lee with the idea of either one being the fifth/sixth/seventh man, then they sign Barbosa (who was only 29 at the time of the signing) as an afterthought, and he is exactly what the team needs as a fifth/sixth/seventh man.

            Forget complaining about Jeff Green – we're stuck with that contract so let's hope for the best. What I'm waiting to see is come the trading deadline (and assuming Barbosa is still your backup point guard, which he ought to be even when Avery returns), will Danny have the gumption to stick with Barbosa and package the higher profile Lee or Terry in a deal that will return a decent center?

            We caught lightning in a bottle with Barbosa and I hope that when Danny and Doc discuss what's best for the team, they will uncharacteristically ignore who's getting paid what and stick with who's producing when given the chance.

      • JR99

        I certainly, absolutely hope you're right about the timing. And I love watching AB play, can't wait to see him again. And about the changes in KG and PP… they're certainly not major. I'm seeing KG just a step slow…. and not every time, just often enough so that guys are blowing by him too easily. That wide open center paint that we've been watching opponents stroll down to the rim… a lot of that's been happening with KG on the floor. Which is very troubling.

        The thinking has been that it's the rotations that aren't working, and yeah, that's true, of course. But I'm also seeing instances of KG simply unable to stop penetration like he once did. And PP's D is not what it once was either. I can't even imagine him being able to check Kobe or Lebron anymore, can you?

        Good news is: we should know pretty soon, as you say. Whatever the reality is, it's prob gonna hit us in the face one of these days, and then we'll either be really happy or starting to prep for bad times.

        • Anthony

          Unfortunately, I agree with your pessimism. This year's team hasn't showed any of the grit and passion of seasons past.

          The 2010 team was a great team that was just too lazy to close out games. I think they lost 14-15 games where they were up double digits. Losing those games essentially knocked them out of having home court advantage which cost them the championship. Also, had Rasheed been in shape and been able to play a few more minutes, we could've closed out Game 7. And of course the Perk injury didn't help.

          The 2011 team was essentially a wash after JO, Shaq, Perk went down with injuries. Then the Perk trade left Rondo in a slump the rest of the season. Remember he was the assist leader towards the end of the season before losing out to Nash.

          Last year's team played cohesively and with a lot heart despite all adversities… beginning with the shortened season, Pierce being out of shape, Ray's ankles, JGreen and Wilcox heart conditions, Pietrus' concussion and AB's shoulder injuries. JO's injury was the only positive of the season. Outside of the big four, everyone else was new to the team. That can only be used an excuse for so long.

          As highly as I think of AB, I don't want the season to depend solely on his health. I just want to see glimpses of championship play but have yet to see it through the first 12 games. Tonite's game will be a good gage to see how good the team is because it's obvious with the current roster that they have a hard time against big teams. Let's see how they play against a fast, up and down team like OKC.

          • JR99

            Agree, on all. Tonight's game — I'm looking forward to it because I think it'll be a good test, as you said. But I'm dreading it too because I'm thinking OKC might embarrass the hell out of us. That would sure suck.

          • Anthony

            Thank goodness for the win. Wouldve been so upset had they blown the lead. A few questionable calls, especially the Westbrook flop, but at least they stood up against the OKC runs.

            I notice some very fixable issues…
            - CLee is way too passive. He always hesitate to either shoot or drive.
            - Barbosa is a split second slow on his pass off the picks.
            - Bass' shooting is really off this year. He's usually automatic with the 15-17 footer.

            Great win though. Go Celts!

  • Kafel

    Ok, You got me with this article.

  • ronny

    I would suggest that NBA gambling fans stick with the red hot Grizzles who have won 8 of their last 9 games to win the game, and cover the spread and ill tell you why here and how to bet the thunder game also!! http://nbawagers.com/friday-night-hoops/

  • Switcharoo

    That Perkins trade will follow Ainge to his grave no doubt about it. Just like the FrenchJuJuBean said, look who we got for more money then Perk was asking, not to mention the kick in the teeth the morale took. But enough about the past, today the Celtics have a diffrent set of problems. They are an undersized team and what bigs they do have turned out to be subpar,aging (sorry KG) or outright duds. Darko ,who didn’t measure up to begin with has gone home,KG can’t do everything,Fab Melo has gone to the Claws,Jason Collins is who he is,subpar, and that’s their 7 footers. From here everyone gets smaller and lighter and against any worthy team Boston is just going to get crushed at the boards. Look at what Duncan did just by himself, we had no answer to him. If there is a light at the end of this rebounding tunnel and they Cs can reach for it I think everything else will fall into place as it should. At any rate I’ll stick by my team regardless and trust that with Ainges help (i.e staying out of they way) Doc will be able to adjust and work his team into the finals and banner 18.
    Let’s go Celtics!!!

  • Mateo

    First i wanna say that 50-60% of the time perk was just a big body in the middle of the paint. What he did was give us a paint presence when paired up with garnett. Now honestly guys for everyone bashing green.. The guy missed a whole SEASON of playing or even practicing.. He was in rehab for most of the time and even had to relearn most of his basic body movements.. The guy just hasn't got his swagger back yet and i believe come mid season he may not be an allstar but he will be a stud! Now when avery comes back im guessing he will have a better comeback because he had (shoulder) surgery and not (heart) surgery but i still expect him to need some time to catch up… Now i say trade bass and courtney lee to get either a true center or a big powerforward that can actually play D, has a post game, and doesnt specialize in a damn inconsistent mid ranger. I would much rather have garnett shoot the mid than bass any day of the week.

  • skeeds

    As much as I want to stay optimistic, there's "fixable" problems, and there's structural failures. I'm afraid that our lack of size and proper post defense has proven to be of the latter category. It has been for quite some time. We just got by on our near perfect halfcourt rotations in seasons past. We were being killed by good big men last year too, we just managed to survive long enough. Long enough to see Bosh destroy us in the C.Finals that is. His impact should be a turning point. And it wasn't.
    We need a legitimate center. A presence in the post, to alleviate some of KG's duties. He's our only above average defender, blocker and rebounder, and obviously that leaves some gaping holes. How many centers need to have huge game on the C's for us to admit that changes have to be made?
    It's not only about practicing our rotations. Wilcox, Bass and Sully can not, physically, play any better against bigger athletic guys. And KG can't become a heavyweight center overnight and bang with kids half his age. It's not his game, and most importantly, it is not in our interest to keep him glued to some huge guy like Varejao or Noah. His job is to coordinate the defense, and we're lost when he has to do everything else too.
    I wonder how this can be solved. If Ainge makes a bold move and grabs a solid player, this team has enough firepower to do real damage. If on the other hand Doc manages to weasel his way out of this without reinforcements, I'll be shocked. It won't be the first he did it though.

    • Mateo

      I agree with u completely skeeds! Ainge went way too trigger happy with guards this season… I understand needing to replace ray ray but i would much rather he grabbed green and barbosa and went after a big instead of lee. I say keep sully ( i see big potential in him) and trade courtney and bass. Get a true big that can slide KG to the 4 spot and allow him to play his game. I can see garnett being more of an offensive threat and spreading the floor if he didnt have too always be under the boards rebounding. Also unfortunately i think if they dont get someone to help garnett in the post then i can smell KG getting a serious injury…

  • bert

    I think if Scalabrine was fired, we will start winning. Atleast muzzled

  • High Rollers

    Seems to me the gamble the C’s made was a relatively safe one, same as the champion Heat. Going small with guys who can put the ball through the net obviously hasn’t hurt the offense thus far (except for stretches of hero ball gone bad… and to be expected). But for the defense it’s been showing warts all over the place. I’m guessing that’s because the smaller you are overall the more you have to play together and play up to your IQ. Our roster probably has the highest IQ-togetherness action potential in the league. There’s a reason our mixture of young individual know-how and veteran expertise stands out on paper. But turning it into a well-oiled machine is going to take an epic amount of patience. Annnnnddddd it won’t hurt to have one of the main pieces of the puzzle return soon (that’d be you, Mr. Bradley). He is an invaluable sidekick to Mr. Rondo, who’s MVP candidacy will certainly suffer if he’s ground down to the nub before All Star Weekend. Doc has to weigh things differently than a lot of other coaches. He can’t jump just because the media and everybody else outside the lockerrroom says Boo!

  • High Rollers

    The following should be written on the C’s marker board in semi permanent ink: BODY UP AND DON’T GO ROGUE.

  • High Rollers

    C’s and Thunder are running neck and neck in the not quite playing all that together category. 50/50 balls will be everything tonight. Could be a close one.

  • OOOOOOM

    LMFAO :D
    You can't win it in June also..
    there is no 2008 anymore

    • elroz

      shooting your faggie mouth off, uh?

      • OOOOOOM

        Fuck you too
        take off you green glasses

  • Lee lee

    We are the Boston Celtic and no matter what people say a true loyal fan knows ANYTHING POSSIBLE… So continue to ride with our boys fall with them and rise again making our way to the top. We always have to fight for it that's what makes us true champs and we no it, we are tuff we have to be cuz we are and will always be under dogs alf the world haes us and don't no why….bleed green mwah I love my boyz

  • OOOOOOM

    .bleed green
    1987-2007 where the fuck were you ?

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