I get that even a very good team will struggle to compete with half its rotation missing. And it has been that bad, maybe worse. Of the starters--Pierce has missed a week and gimped through another couple of weeks, while Garnett has missed a month and when he returns will have accumulated rust and loss of conditioning. Rondo missed only one game but wheel problems are a critical issue for a game built on speed. Things have been even worse for the backup five. Three (Tony Allen, Marquis Daniels and Glen Davis) have missed months and took/will-take weeks upon their reappearance to return to full effectiveness. Rasheed’s sore foot (always a concern for a big man) and extra pounds have encouraged his proclivity to shorten the court 35’ by limiting his trip to 3-point line to free-throw line. House has only missed a game due to the flu (which made the rounds throughout the team) but has had a broken jump shot (can that be on a training room list?). Unfortunately the question of whether the assembled team can compete at the highest level, and that is the level at which the bar is set, will not be answered before the All-Star game. That doesn't, however, make it a moot question since it is a critical one, just unanswerable.
I get that it has been a half a season of makeshift lineups but that the Celtics still have a pretty gaudy record, dominate their division, and are being reassembled for play in May not January. I understand the natural, though still destructive, tendency to try to do too much when you feel your team slipping beneath the waves. I see the problems for Doc as he is constantly forced to slap together a rotation with the pieces he still has suited up. I get the problem for Danny Ainge as he left straddling the fence about rebuilding, reinforcing, or waiting out the deluge of injuries--and without definitive information as to what he has got.
I'm not pushing the panic button but only a fool would fail to note and be concerned at the rising tide of negative signs. The Championship Celtics were a team filled with urgency. The current team not so much, as their mood is more a lackadaisical and petulant pique at things not going their way. Whereas the title squad’s unselfish play some times led to passing to a fault, the current crew lean toward faulty passing. Usually the product of bailing out of an aborted drive, a too predictable swing after exhausting the inlet pass possibilities, or (especially in Rondo’s case) a pass to a vacant area that would have been occupied if the regular rotation player wasn’t in street clothes. The rebounding has been atrocious with the point guard Rondo leading the team on far too many nights and the front line caroms limited to Perkins and, well, pretty much Perkins. Turnovers have reached epidemic proportions. All too many of the losses have been team losses--they are in it together, everybody plays like dogs.
Not that there hasn't been ample individual failings. The shooters (Ray, Rasheed, and Eddie) are having awful years rivaling career lows. Pierce is back to one-on-three drives and if blocked shots were counted as turnovers he might be leading the league. Without a full complement of shooters available and producing, Eddie and Ray are struggling to get uncontested shots, and the three-point rain has dropped to a drizzle. Glen's hand has seen to it that his jumper is still missing and without lift his one-dimension as inside threat is an uphill battle. Scalabrine has been unable to hit his trademark (by that I mean only) shot, the three, and his allergy to rebounds has left the boards to the active, athletic opponents that he tries to cover. Even Rondo, as he tries to ramp up his game in the absence of a full complement of teammates, has gotten more shots blocked, thrown more passes to empty holes, and had more turnovers as opponents play him for the pass in traffic and/or his receivers are caught unprepared (Shelden are your ears burning?)
It is these across-the-board failures and flagging attitude that are troubling, and KG's return will not cure all the ills. So I am reminded of the radio message from We Were Soldiers Once calling for assistance from all available sources for a beleaguered unit in danger of being overrun by the enemy. And I’m standing here front and center announcing the issue because “You can't take any pictures from down there, sonny.”
Oddly this may be somewhat liberating for Danny Ainge because any changes (certainly big, little, or medium, and perhaps none) will be accepted in the light of "Things are getting pretty hairy down here!"