The 2010/2011 Boston Celtics: Are These Guys Any Good?
The Boston Celtics enter the 2010-2011 season at a pivotal crossroads in franchise history. Their core group of players is getting a little too long in the tooth to consistently play at the level needed to compete for an NBA title. Their veteran-laden roster has one, possibly two, seasons before being put to pasture. And the path to the Finals got a lot more difficult with the revamped Miami Heat being practically written in as Eastern Conference, if not NBA, champions.
There is something noble about this Celtics team, though. It brings to mind Clint Eastwood’s Will Munny and Morgan Freeman’s Ned Logan in Unforgiven, grizzled gunslingers back for one last big run. But can the Celtics’ players compete for a title this year? Let’s take a look at their key players.
1) Paul Pierce
Still the best player on the team, Pierce had an excellent year last season. He is still more than capable of taking over a game at any moment. As talented as he is, P Squared has this infuriating tendency, especially in late game situations, to demand the ball, jab step fifteen times at his defender, and then launch a fadeaway jump shot as the shot/game clock expires. Meanwhile, everyone else stands around looking bored. It’s hard to stay mad at a guy who’s been toughing it out for the Celts for the past twelve years. I just wish he was less of a chucker. In any case, if the Celtics want to make any kind of run at this thing, they’ll need Pierce to have a monster season.
2) Kevin Garnett
KG’s production slipped last year, there’s no doubt about that. Everyone in Boston is praying that he has one more quality season in him. It’s hard to say whether his stunted production was due to injury or a mere decline in skills. Hopefully, it’s the latter. He is still a good player, it’s just hard to know which KG will show up. Will it be the guy who blocks shots, sprints the floor for an And-1, and then screams like a crazy man? Or will it be the guy who hangs out at the top of the key and jacks 19 foot jumpers?
3) Rajon Rondo
Rondo is another guy who’s frustrating to watch. At times, he looks superb-remember this play during the Orlando series?
People were just about penciling him as a future All-Star and possibly a Hall of Famer. Then, the Lakers realized “Hey, this guy shoots like a young Jason Kidd. Maybe we should just leave him open.” After this, Rondo became a pretty average player. He’s certainly one of the most exciting players in Celtics history, but his absurdly poor shooting skills are going to prevent him from entering elite company. I know this argument is reductive, but how can a guy whose sole job is to play basketball be so bad a shooting? It makes no sense; I coach 6th graders who play three times a week, and they can knock down 15-footers.
4) Ray Allen
Ray Allen is coming off a head-scratching Finals performance. His outstanding 8-11 three point shooting display in Game 2 broke the NBA Finals record for most made three pointers in a half. He followed that up by nearly breaking the NBA Finals records for most consecutive missed shots, going 0-13 from the field and 0-8 from three-land. Some of his poor shooting performance (sans Game 2, obviously) can be attributed to having to chase around Kobe Bryant all game, but it’s pretty disheartening when one of the best shooters of all-time looks like he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. Obviously, Boston is going to need a throwback Ray Allen season if they want to contend.
Unfortunately, after these four guys there’s a huge drop in talent. The offensively challenged Kendrick Perkins will likely round out the starting lineup when he returns from injury. Perkins brings some toughness and is a decent defender, but man, you’d be hard pressed to find a worse offensive player in the NBA. Shaquille O’Neal has apparently played pretty well during the preseason, but he was legitimately one of the worst players in the NBA last year. Luckily, all the Celtics really need him to do is grab rebounds and take up space in the lane. I will say that Shaq, along with Jermaine O’Neal, gives the Celts some decent size. Their lack of size was a huge problem against the Lakers, when Glen Davis was often stuck battling Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum.
To me, the thing that is really going to hurt this team is lack of a solid, consistent play from the bench. When they won the title in 2008, they had guys like James Posey and Eddie House knocking down threes and firing up the crowd. Somehow Marquis Daniels and Nate Robinson don’t inspire the same level of confidence. However, Von Wafer (formerly of the Houston Rockets) and reunited Celtic and Delonte West should be serviceable.
Final Analysis: I think this Celtics team should be good, but I don’t know if they can recreate the magic of the 2008 season. I wouldn’t count them out by any means, but it’s going to take epic seasons from Allen, Pierce, and Garnett for this team to bring home a title.