We are entering the final stretch run of the season and there are a few things that stand out for the Celtics as they finish out the season.
First, Doc has been successful so far this season although he still makes some decisions that make you scratch your head. The playoffs are a whole different animal from the regular season. Doc has never won a playoff series. There is a bigger emphasis on strategy and coaches have to be able to make adjustments as the series goes on. This is a concern since Doc hasn't proved that he can do this. Doc has improved in his decision making as the season has gone one and hopefully is growing as a coach and will be able to handle the rigors of coaching in the playoffs.
Doc needs to rest his starters as much as possible down the stretch. The Spurs have done this in years past and that has given them a leg up in the playoffs as they go into the playoffs with their starters at full strength. The Celtics have proved they can win with their stars out or at less than full strength, so this shouldn't be a problem. Doc needs to realize this and as the season winds down, play his starters fewer minutes.
Going along with giving the starters more rest, Doc needs to give Leon Powe and Big Baby more playing time. When Powe and Baby got the playing time with KG and Perk out, they produced. They need playing time to improve and so Doc is going to have to find time for these young players to get in there and produce as they will be needed in the playoffs.
One of the things that allowed the Celtics to do so well when KG was out was the more aggressive play of Rondo. He picked up his rebounding and was more aggressive on both ends of the floor. Rondo needs to continue to be that aggressive even with KG back in the mix. With KG on the floor and Rondo aggressively taking the ball to the hoop and crashing the boards as Perk boxes out, this team could be close to unbeatable.
As well as Rondo has been playing, the Celtics really do need point guard help. Tony Allen and Eddie House have been doing a decent job at back up, but it would be great to have some insurance just in case Rondo gets in foul trouble or the unthinkable happens and he is injured for any period of time. Neither House nor Tony can play extended minutes at the point. They are ok for a few minutes of back up, but not as a starter. Tyronn Lue would be a great choice for back up. He would not demand big minutes, would be happy to back up Rondo, is a very good point guard, is great defensively, and is a good friend of Kevin Garnett.
Ray Allen is going to be crucial for this team down the stretch and in the playoffs. He hasn't played well yet this season except in spurts. He realizes this and plans to get better for the second half of the season. He is off to a good start with his play in the All Star game. If his shooting touch returns, this will be huge for the Celtics as it gives the Celtics a deadly weapon from outside and spreads the floor more for the other players.
The Celtics start the second half with a brutal trip out West and how they do on this trip will show where the Celtics need to go. There have been questions about this team all along. Now we are hearing that the Celtics have a disadvantage because they haven't been there before. The Pistons and Spurs have both been together for years. They know each other and have been to the playoffs and the finals as a unit. The Celtics have come together much quicker than anyone has imagined and now it is time for them to prove that their start was no fluke and they are capable of winning down the stretch and in the playoffs when the stakes are higher.