This has been Danny Ainge's worst season by far. Rasheed Wallace was his worst move but none of them were really good. It is truly damning with faint praise to suggest that the signing of Shelden Williams was probably his best move of the past year. Yet Shelden has played solidly, with energy, and exceeded the low expectations that came with his "Bust" label upon arrival. He has worked hard in games and in practice regardless of his wildly fluctuating playing time. If only Danny's other additions had reached a level even slightly above expectations.
Marquis Daniels looked every bit as good as I had hoped--until he ravaged his thumb and underwent season-altering, if not season-ending, surgery. The experiment with him as a ball-handling swingman playing good defense to counterbalance the flaws in Eddie House's game looked good until House lost his jumper and 'Quis lost his hand. By the time Marquis returned, Eddie was mired in a prolonged slump and Daniels never regained his confidence. Another acquisition that lived up to his negative expectations (frequently injured and/or invisible) rather than blossoming under the limited demands of a role player on a contender.
The return of Big Baby Davis after the rest of the league had spurned him was Danny's other "big" move. Glen has played with energy after finally returning from his self-imposed exile caused by breaking his thumb on his homie after the long-time friend supposedly cast aspersions on Davis' new fiancee. He's shown a knack for corralling offensive rebounds and a similar knack for giving the ball back by forcing up the rebound into a crowd for a blocked shot. Less needed has been the midrange jumper from last season as Sheed and Garnett have become primarily outside players at this stage in their careers. He's not always effective but at least he is trying hard--not a guarantee on this year's team.
Third from the last pick in the draft is never a high recommendation, yet in spite of numerous picks for sale, Boston stayed pat and selected small college phenom Lester Hudson. Lester actually looked better than his predecessor Gabe Pruitt or incumbent backup Eddie House. With an all-in commitment to the aging warriors' closing window the club eschewed developing this rookie or the 2008 draft holdovers Giddens or Walker (although to be fair rotten luck in the form of a knee injury removed Bill Walker from the equation for the tell-tale half of the season leading up to the trade deadline).
The Celtics gave up Hudson for nothing but roster space and sent the other youngsters packing along with Eddie at the deadline to bring in Nate Robinson (and Marcus Landry for salary matching). Nate showed the same attributes that had made him so expendable in New York--streaky shooting, life on the edge of loss of control, and a remarkable lack of defense in someone so athletically gifted. Nate the Great (nix that, make it Nate the Flake) found the Green dog house with late reactions resulting in fouls swiping at his man as he was unable to change directions and a one-on-four three-point effort with 5 seconds gone of the 18 remaining in the quarter--providing plenty of time for the other team to make a final basket. Once again an acquisition lived up to the negative expectations and failed to emerge as a contributor for a contender.
Landry was released and it is hard to see Nate being kept around so the return for the 2008 and 2009 draft classes is a big zero. Well maybe Ainge has turned it around with free agent D-league escapees Oliver Lafayette and Tony Gaffney who are playoff eligible but more likely on hand for a long look for next season as they have 2-year non-guaranteed contracts.
Now to return to the accumulation of excrement in the bag marked Prosecution Exhibit Number 1. I actually feel physically ill as I contemplate the long irksome list of ways Rasheed Wallace has disappointed. Unfortunately I must preface this with the disclaimer that almost all of it was on the warning label that came with the Sheed package. It is somewhat shocking to me that his abysmal 3-point shooting percentage and wildly irresponsible number of attempts fall well down on the list. This aspect at least, while showing decline, is somewhat a surprise as it is a career low by far. Just as damaging has been the slow or nonexistent defensive rotations that seems to be one part physical decline, one part disinterest, one part slow recognition, and one part lazy self-centeredness (and none of those parts are acceptable!) Even more damaging has been the attitude--a tone that might most kindly be described as lackadaisical. Two points in the Bill Simmons' article I found particularly telling, and repugnant. The remark by his friend (father?) that he had never seen a quick-twitch muscle action getting down court that would have caused him to spill his cup of coffee; and Bill's own free-throw-line count where Sheed never crossed either free-throw line (with nine as a high point). This makes me angry! Angry as a fan, angry as a basketball lover and player, angry as an observer, angry as a human being. As I feel my blood pressure rising as I type this, it occurs to me that I am just as angry with Doc. Which raises the question, if Doc had benched him every time he loafed up or down the court, would Rasheed have quit (except in CTC terms [Cut The Check, a phrase of Wallace's own coinage])--on Doc, on the team, on everything but the salary collection? Which brings me to the most harmful aspect of all (other than corrupting perhaps the last real season for the New Big Three): there are two more seasons and $12M on this sluggard's contract! I suppose the list would be incomplete without adding a lack of interest in rebounding, inconsistent individual defense, the continuing wait for his first draw of a charge, and the disarray of the team’s focus as it concentrates on Sheed’s pique rather than the task at hand.
The whole benching question brings up a flurry of issues. In spite of the age, there are a number of young players on this team (and probably should have been more). What kind of message is it that Sheed is allowed to loaf along? Is anything he brings to the team more valuable than the statement that benching him would make for the other 14? Double standards are always counterproductive and the effects of a season of biting his tongue rather than the prima donnas has to leave Doc near a coronary, the youngsters baffled and resentful, and purists among the fans fighting down the gorge. I think Danny and Doc thought that there would be a half a dozen games in which Rasheed might provide the winning edge. In hindsight I wonder if his presence didn't cost the whole team it's fighting edge? [Discuss on CG Forums!]
After looking through all the previews and listening to the preview shows, it seems that most analysts give the Celtics a chance to win the first series against Miami but feel that they will lose in the second round, no matter who they face. Gets kind of depressing.
There are so many things that point to an early exit for the Celtics. They have absolutely no momentum coming into the playoffs. They are facing one of the teams that was the hottest down the stretch who are playing great team ball right now. They are old. They have reported chemistry issues. Rasheed has been a disappointment. But even with all that I just have this little feeling deep down inside that tells me that this team is going to turn it on and make a deep run.
They have shown that on any given night they can beat any team. They have also shown that they can lose to the Nets. But, these guys are veterans. These guys are proud. I believe that they will pick up their games and rediscover ubuntu and they will get it done. There are precedents to look back at and foster belief that it can be done. There are the 1969 Celtics to look to. They were old. They were washed up. They had the worst record of any team coming in. But they beat a highly favored Lakers team to win the title. There is the Spurs team that were also considered washed up that entered the playoffs as the 6th seed and won the championship. There is the 94-95 Rockets team that also entered as the 6th seed and won it all. Never underestimate the heart of a champion or Celtics Pride.
I know that the Celtics got stronger by having their early series go to 7 games in their championship run, but I really don't want to see them go to 7 games this year. I'd love to see it end in 4 but think it will go at least 5 games and may even go the full 7. But if the Celtics come out with motivation like they should, it shouldn't go past 5 games.
I'm starting to think that Doc really is the masterful motivator that we've heard he is. How funny that all of a sudden there are rumors of Doc leaving the team after this season. And Doc is being very cool to say that he will wait until after the season is over to think about that. KG and Pierce have come out strongly with their feelings that they want Doc back and what better way to bring him back than to win a championship and give him the opportunity to defend it. What a sneaky guy that Doc is.
I really liked what I saw of Oliver Lafayette in the last game of the season. I think adding Lafayette and Gaffney before the playoffs, both high energy guys who are known for their work ethic and defense, is a good move by Danny. These guys, if nothing else, will push the Celtics in practice to up their games.
I'm thinking that the Cavs may have more trouble with the bulls than they think they will. As irritating as Noah can be, he is good and he plays hard. Derrick Rose is a very good PG and should wear Mo Williams out trying to defend him. And the X Factor is Brad Miller who can just take a guy out whenever needed. The Magic know they are in for a fight with the Bobcats who are a very good team. Should be fun series to watch and cheer for the underdogs.
Another series I plan to watch is the Lakers/Thunder one. You can tell that Phil Jackson is already worried about this one because he has been fined not once, but twice already for complaining about the star calls he expects Durant to get. Gee, think he is worried about the star calls Kobe gets? Somehow I don't think that will bother him. The Thunder is a young team with nothing to lose and that makes them very dangerous. Go Thunder!
I'm getting excited for the playoffs. I expect the Celtics to finally get it together and find consistency and surprise a lot of people. If they don't, I'll be the one who is surprised.
[Discuss on CG Forums!]
Let's go Bucks! The way they laid an egg against the Bulls makes me think we could take them and perhaps they even want to play us...
We will see if the Celtics rest guys for this game. They would much rather play the Bucks than the Heat. So if they lose this game they do their part to get the Bucks in the first round.
Miami would much rather play the Hawks in the first round and get out of having to play the Cavs in the second round. If you see Wade, Haslem, and O'neal resting you know their plan is to lose to get the 6 th seed and a matchup with Atlanta.
Given how unlikely it is that the Heat will lose to the Nets I don't think it would be a bad idea for Skiles to rest the Bucks' top players tonight.
Well, I think that would depend. Miami's bench is terrible. If they rest their starters, NJ's starters could definitely beat Miami's bench.
I think I'd prefer to play Boston. I go back and forth on who I want to play. I like our chances against Boston 5 on 5 but I worry about the officiating. Atlanta I think would be a close series but they are damn athletic and I think they would abuse us on a few matchups.
I want Boston And then I want someone to surround Paul Pierce's car with marbles
Man I want a Boston series something fierce. I think Atlanta's insane athleticism negates some of our defensive abilities, especially without a force in the middle. I also think they're hungrier than Boston and have a chip on their shoulder. Atlanta still feels like the underdog and wants to stomp someone in the first round.
I want Boston just because if we are going to miraculously pull an upset, I want it to be against Kevin Garnett.
I don't like Boston or Atlanta, a lot of punks on both teams...
Maybe Rasheed can help us out Like he did last night for the Bulls! Haha!
Even id the C's are resting their starters I would still like us to come out, show good defensive intensity, and stomp on their necks.
Rondo the only starter playing for the Celtics, while Wade, JO and Haslem are all sitting out…we could see the C’s after all…
I hope we get Boston, despite the obvious officiating bias they will receive.
If we play Boston in first round it is 4-0 Boston or 4-1 Boston. God let it be Atlanta please
I want us to play Boston. I too don't think we would win the series. But we can at least inflict some pain and destroy their souls so they are no chance in the 2nd round.
I feel like we're going to win this game and end up playing Boston which isn't really what I want.
I'd much rather play the Hawks since I can tolerate their players and fans.
Somebody named Oliver Lafayette is on the court for the Boston Celtics
The C’s signed two guys off the street for the sole purpose of tanking this game. That’s tremendous.
OMG... OLIVER LAFYETTE!!!
Ted Davis was calling him the big O. Guess they didn't even give the announcers notes on the guy.
Haha, Moute falls over and they call a foul on Big Baby.
The Celtics are letting us have this one which is to be expected. I'm sure they would much rather play us than Miami.
Bogut should send a tweet at halftime saying 'great news, doc says I'll be ready for game 1 of playoffs'. Then start watching the Celtics play hard
Here we go, time to find out who can do a better job of not trying to win this game.
Too bad this game has turned into 48 minutes of garbage time, but you really can't blame either coach.
Too bad the Nets suck too badly for the Heat's tanking plan to work, though. They can't score in Miami!!
That could get interesting at the end. I just hope Miami doesn't resort to the Rasheed Wallace throw-it-in-the-wrong-basket strategy.
If we lose someone to injury I will blame Skiles. WTF is he doing there? Old guys Stackhouse and Ridnour played most minutes (15+) then grandfather Thomas with 13+
Can Skiles bring Jackson in just to lay a hard foul on Rondo. Get him out of the game (and maybe a few more).
Don't imagine the thought hasn't crossed his mind
Miami scrubs take control of their game making this one semi-irrelevent.
Even with Beasley scoring 16 they're on pace to score only about 80. Too bad for them the Nets aren't cooperating. These games are giving "the NBA - where amazing happens" a whole new meaning.
Sucks the Heat get to smoke the Old Celtics.
I will enjoy watching Boston crash and burn.
Gadzuric vs Scalabrine worth the price of admission alone
Just don't forget the trend:
When KG plays:
Bulls have been blown out in every game since he came to the Celtics.
When KG doesn't play:
The Bulls play competitively with the Celtics and have won 5 out of 9 games (playoffs included).
I have faith in Joakim, he will do what needs to be done to get us into the playoffs!
Noah > KG
That is all
We are favorites because the Celtics aren't the same team, we are younger @home and some players might be rested
God I hate Garnett
I hate Rondo more
I hate pierce more
Yeah I hate him too
I feel bad for Garnett and still kind of like him
I think I've lost all respect for you
Every Celtic is playing
Hopefully our craptacular play the past few weeks lulls Boston to sleep and the 21-9 team we know and love comes out like gangbusters tomorrow. Its easy to get an early lead against Boston but they seem to be really good at grinding out wins
If both Kirk and Deng show up, I think we have a good chance of winning.
In other words, we're probably not going to win.
If the Bulls can't beat a tired and disinterested Celtics team at home, they don't deserve to go to the playoffs.
Cool, both Pierce and KG will be playing. Awesome.
Sucks for them - getting embarassed with two of the key guys playing.
I wish Kendrick Perkins would die...I don't care what anyone else thinks of that...**** him
Brad Miller cannot play in this game when Garnett is in. He's just getting owned.
Noah getting Rodman whistles now!
Yes just win this game at the foul line if its what its takes.
They gonna foul out here. Lol
KG forgot his intensity in the locker room.
Finally calling moving screens on these POS on the Celtics. I hope KG is out for the playoffs...I respect no one on this Boston team except for Jesus Shuttlesworth
KG injured? Hope it was worth protecting the integrity of the game, Doc. Sucker.
Guys, we need to keep Pete Meyers. He just owned Rondo. It looked like he was playing keep away with a little kid. That was hilarious.
Allen is probably one of my favorite all time players. From his play to his interviews, the guy is just likable. The rest of those C's should learn a little class from him.
Refs are calling everything
Big Baby looking like someone just took the last piece of cake
Rose eats Rondo alive.
Keep pushing it run these old men into the ground.
Rose is beasting! Look at Rondo's alien *** face!
I'm surprised that Boston is playing some of there starters, the look dead. Thety should be resting for the playoffs.
"Rasheed Wallace, talk about the game tonight"
"I played hard for both teams."
Rose is owning rondo
Hahaha, we're getting the calls today
Catchin some breaks...
Nice D by Rondo. Rose is just out of his league.
Rondo sucks...and people actually compare him to Rose
Sorry Nate, this aint the dunk contest, you got no chance.
Rose IS better than Rondo though. In every possible way baby!
If it wasn't for sheed scoring on the wrong basket it would be a 2 point game
With Nate on them it is so easy to see the basket!
Wow, The best performance of the year for Kirk!
If Vinny had Nate, Earl Boykins, Spud Webb, and Mugsy on his team...he'd play the ultimate 4 guard lineup.
We NEVER get those shots to fall. This is an amazing feeling.
Rose with a career high!!!
So much for Rondo's elite defense
Glad the Bulls finally beat the Celtics with KG playing.
I have thought Rondo has been overrated this whole season
I bet a raptors player got injured watching Celtics-bulls game tonite