The Celtics play the Raptors today in an sfternoon game. Typically they haven't liked afternoon games, but today is as good as any for the Celtics to break out of their slump. The Celtics should beat the Raptors, but then again, the Celtics should have beaten the Warriors, Blazers, Knicks, Wizards, and Rockets, so nothing is certain any more. The Raptors can kill a team from beyond the arc, so let's hope the Celtics have located the defense that has been missing these past 9 games.
It is amazing how the Celtics have gone from talk of the best team ever to being past their window. And now all the media "experts" are counting them out and we haven't even hit the All Star break yet. But, the koolaid drinker in me just won't listen to all that doom and gloom. Here are a few facts that may take Celtics fans off suicide watch.
Even after the Celtics have lost 7 of their last 9 games, the Cavs, Lakers, Magic and Celtics all have the same number of wins. The Celtics may be a game and a half back in the East, but they have played 3 more games than the Cavs or the Lakers. Yes, they have been in a slump, but they are still right up there at the top in spite of it.
Also, history has shown that champions do go through slumps. The 85-86 Celtics team that is still in conversations about the best team ever went through a slump in December that culminated in the Christmas Day debacle where they blew a 25 point lead and lost on national TV. But, they were a good team and were able to right the ship after their slump and go back to dominating.
Another example that should give Celtics fans some hope is the 2003-04 Pistons that finished the regular season 59-23 and went on to beat the hated Lakers in the Finals. That team had a 3 game losing streak in November. In December, they lost 4 in a row and 7 of 9 in one stretch of games. They then won 13 in a row before going on a 3 game losing streak again. Then, in February, they lost 6 games in a row, and of 9 games. I am sure Piston fans were in deep despair during that 6 game losing streak. Celtics fans would be jumping off bridges. But, my point is, even championship teams go through slumps in the regular season. Home court is important and it sure would be nice to have it, but we don't need it to win a championship. This team can win on the road when they have to. I refuse to get down on this team after one rough stretch.
All that being said, the Celtics do have some holes that need to be filled. We could use a back up 3 with size who can play defense. Truthfully, I think Bill Walker may be able to fill that role by the end of the season, even if he isn't ready now. We also need a back up center with size. We may already have that in Patrick O'Bryant. Doc says he is getting close to being able to contribute. And we need a point guard to back up Rondo. I really believe we already have that in Gabe Pruitt. The kid plays great defense, has a smooth jumper, and doesn't get rattled. If Gabe plays the point, I think Eddie will go back to being the shooter we need on the second unit. He isn't as effective as a scorer when he has to bring the ball up and set up the offense. I think this team can improve from within. Of course, if there is a player out there like PJ Brown who could help the team without destroying the chemistry (see Marbury, Stephon, chemistry killer), then by all means, Danny should go for it. But, I don't think we need to make wholesale changes for this team to repeat.
From the absolute irony department: The Celtics have lost 4 in a row while the Timberwolves have won 5 in a row. Wow!
Kudos to Chris Wallace for staring down the Blazers and re-signing Darius Miles. I don't think the Blazers have any shot at a lawsuit against them since they obviously need help and signed him before and let him sit out his 10 game suspension and just didn't want to guarantee his original contract. I really hope he does well. Any kid who works that hard to come back from an injury deserves a chance. Besides, the Blazers have been very classless in this whole thing and deserve to have to eat his contract.