Some thoughts on this team as we approach the end of the preseason. First, after watching the game in New York, I have realized how very important Perk is to this team. The first time we played this team, we beat them by 40. The second time, even with Pierce, Garnett and Allen playing close to 40 minutes in the game, we lost by 7. The difference between the first game and the second game was Perk. From the Herald:
More alarming was the decision to sit Kendrick Perkins [stats] for the second straight game. The big man has tightness in his left hamstring. With Scot Pollard still recovering from a deep bone bruise in his right ankle, Perkins is the only serviceable center on the roster. “I’m concerned,” Rivers said. “It’s in the hamstring area, so we’re not taking any chances. It’s clear from the (Knicks) game that having Perk would have made a big difference. But I won’t allow him to practice until I think it’s perfect.” Perkins wasn’t as worried. “It’s nothing serious,” he said. “But a pulled hamstring is nothing to play with. I’m not worried, though.”
Doc acknowledges that Perk would have made a big difference. We can get away with Powe, Big Baby, or Pollard when he gets healthy, at the back up, but we need Perk in the starting lineup. Hopefully the hamstring is nothing serious and resting him in the preseason will allow him to be 100% for the season opener.
While some are already putting Doc in for Coach of the Year because they figure the Celtics turnaround will be dramatic, I still have concerns about the coaching. The way Doc has been managing the minutes so far in the preseason has been concerning. Over the weekend Doc sat KG and Pierce in the game in Connecticut in which Allen played big minutes. And Doc was supposedly going to let Ray rest for Monday’s Knicks game, but Ray ended up playing about 40 minutes along with Pierce and Garnett. He then sat them in the next game. It seems to me that playing them about 20-25 minutes per game would be much better than beating them into the ground one night and then sitting them out the next. It would help the chemistry and continuity of the team to let them get some play every game. Apparently, Flip Saunders agrees with me in this quote from MLive:
Pistons coach Flip Saunders, who used to coach Garnett in Minnesota said he couldn't envision a scenario that would make him want to play his starters major minutes (in the preseason). "If they get about 24 (minutes played), I'm nervous; so we try not to do that," Saunders said.
Doc has never been very good with in-game management. When Wally's knee started to act up after he was traded to Boston, Doc was told by the doctors to limit Wally to 25 minutes and Wally was playing 35+ minutes every night. Doc's system also stunts our point guards. Rondo is best in the open court where he can create and run but in Doc's system he brings the ball up and passes it off. Rondo is a talent and has star potential but Doc's system just doesn't play to his strengths. I hope I am wrong, because I don't see Doc going anywhere and for better or worse, he is the coach here. The Celtics are 3-3 in the preseason. Yes, the games don't count, but I think we would have accomplished a lot more toward the regular season if the starters had played a quarter or so in each game rather than 40 minutes one night and none the next. We can't blame youth anymore and if the team doesn't get off to a quick start, I think the finger has to point at the system and the coaching.
The fact that our bench hung with the Nets starters as long as they did is encouraging. Against the Knicks and the Nets we shot horribly. For whatever reason, no one could hit anything. Hopefully everyone won't be off offensively in the same game many times. I guess we could credit some of it with the defenses, but we would be in real trouble if that were to happen every time a team played defense against us. Our bench will do great for what it was designed for, filling in for 15-20 minutes behind the starters. What is scary is thinking of any of our starters going down with an injury.
Rondo has a new blog up on Yardbarker and he talks about having his wisdom teeth pulled. Poor guy is in pain. Hopefully he will be feeling better by Friday and be ready to play. It would be nice to see the whole team play at least a quarter or two in a dress rehearsal for opening night. He reports that the team continues to grow together and that is a good thing.
Big Baby looked really good in the last game. He has talent and although he is still a little raw, he is going to be good. After watching Zach Randolph and Eddie Curry out there in the Knicks game, I don't know why everyone is always talking about Big Baby's size. He isn't as big as those two. I do believe he will be able to contribute on both ends of the court if Doc will give him a chance and not bury him on the bench as he did with Gomes.
Our defense is much improved this season but still has way too many lapses. Hopefully they will continue to work on it and as the players get more used to playing together and in the system, those lapses will get fewer. We will only go as far as our defense will take us.
With Ricky D and Blount going to Miami and Antoine Walker going to Minny, there are a lot of rumors going around that Walker could be headed back to Boston. Speculation is that Walker will be bought out by Minnesota since they didn't really want him in the first place and they have to cut several players, and we all know how much Antoine would love to be back in Boston. I don't know, Walker has always done well in Boston but we already have one player who chucks up the ball from beyond the arc every time he gets his hands on it in Scal. If Walker could play a low post game instead of being a volume scorer, he might be able to help us. I don't think it will happen though. If Riley was frustrated with Antoine, wait till he has to deal with Ricky and Blount. This should be good.