I don’t know about you, but during the first half of the 2011-2012 NBA Season, I didn’t think the Celtics had it in themselves for another run for a Championship. They were pretty much looking at a seven or eight seed in the playoffs and more than likely an early out for the summer. But wait a minute! Since the All Star break, they have went on a tear and are firmly seated 4th and could possibly be a three seed by the end of the season. As of this morning they are 36 – 25 2 1/2 games behind Indiana. The have won two in a row and are 7-3 in their last 10 games. So how did we get here?
The dismantling started last season when they traded Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Glen “Big Baby” Davis to the Orlando Magic. I thought that, and given the ages of Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, the end of this team as we knew it was over. Then the word that maybe Rajon Rondo was available for someone preparing for a playoff run pretty much confirmed my suspicions. Rondo has great Point Guard skills, distributes the rock, runs the offense and is a pretty good rebounder, but leaves a little to be desired in the scoring department. He’s not a Chris Paul or Derrick Rose in that regard.
In my opinion, Coach Doc Rivers is a genius, and the reason his team is playing so well. With his big scorers Ray Allen and Paul Pierce showing some age and injuries, he has completely re-tooled the offense to get more points on the board. He has moved Power Forward and aging veteran, Kevin Garnett to Center. That move, along with a different attitude from Rondo has opened up his low post game. This changed the Celtics from a spot up jump-shooting team that lives and dies by the three pointers, to an attacking, lane driving scoring machine. With defenses having to pull their big man out of the lane to resist Garnetts jump shot opens up driving lanes, rebounds and fast break scoring.
Bringing Ray Allen off the bench and burning minutes with role players like Michael Pietrus and Brandon Bass, allowing Allen to save his legs, will almost assure Boston a strong run in the playoffs. If they can get Paul Pierce back by then, life will be even better.
It’s my prediction that it will be the Celtics and Heat in the East Finals. I think Chicago is in trouble unless they can get Derrick Rose back to full throttle by the playoffs. Unless he get’s to a 100%, I think Boston can manhandle the Bulls in a seven game series. The Heat is another story, but unless Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade start to help LeBron out more, especially on defense, Boston has a chance there also.
I can’t wait for the season to be over and get to the playoffs. They should be fun this year. The terrible schedule in this strike-shortened season will have taken it’s toll on teams that have a lot of age. The Celtics have been able to get some help for the old-timers and should be ok. Come On Boston, lets show them you have one last big chance to put up another banner.