Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Another clunker: the Celtics lose a winnable one against the Pacers.

C/O Chris Forseberg's twitter.

So here we are, on March 29, still on the dark side of the moon. The playoffs are just around the corner and the Celtics seem to be spiraling downwards. They are currently 51-22 and tied for the 2 seed come postseason. What makes this worse is that they're losing games to teams they have no business losing to: New Jersey, Charlotte and Indiana, for example. I don't know if they'll be able to catch Chicago for the 1 spot. The Bulls have won 8 of their last 10 and their remaining schedule is a cakewalk. Last night they got their bums handed to them by the Sixers. If the Celtics could have pulled off a win against the Pacers, they would have been 1 game behind Chicago, instead of 2, and they would have been .5 games ahead of Miami, instead of being tied... But they didn't get the win, so it is what it is.

Just for the heck of it, I decided to check out what their record was at this time last season. On March 29, 2010, the Celtics were 47-26. That is a full 4 games behind in the win column from where they are today, and that was a season in which Kendrick Perkins played 101 games in a Celtics uniform (playoffs included). I will not chalk this recent Celtic slump up to the fact that Perk is gone. It's just not that simple. Did it shake things up and have an effect on chemistry? Yes. Are the Celtics kinda standing around scratching their heads and wondering what's going on? Yes. But the Celtics are 27-9 with Shaq in the starting lineup and arguably played their best basketball of the season with him starting. I love Kendrick Perkins and it's sad that he's gone- but I don't think he is the end all, be all. This is a team that's fully capable of getting their legs back under them. You'll recall that they lost a whole bunch of easily winnable games last year, too: New Jersey, Washington, Milwaukee, for example, and those all came at the end of the season, like they are now.

Yesterday I read that Chris Mannix from Sports Illustrated went on WEEI and went on and on about how the Celtics have a "horrible attitude,":

“Imagine before the season if we thought getting into late March, early April, ‘If only Shaq and Jermaine can come back, we’ll be OK for the postseason.’ To me, that’s a horrible attitude to have, if that’s what this team is thinking, that one of those guys can come back and be a difference-maker. Once Shaq comes back, he’ll only play for about two months, and who knows what kind of physical shape he’s in at this stage. And Jermaine has given you nothing all season long, so there’s no reason to believe he’s going to add anything to the equation.”

Wasn't being ready for the end of the season and the playoffs the exact reason they were brought here? It wasn't about what goes on in January and February. It was about May and June. There was always the possibility that Perk wasn't going to be around- except at the time that they made the deals for the O'Neals they were probably thinking because of an injury, and not a trade- but the end result is the same. He's not here. The Celtics were out-sized by LA in the finals. It was and still is about having more bodies come postseason time. 

News on Jermaines return after the jump

Jermaine is targeting Thursday for his return to action. A lot of fans are pissed off he waited so long to get surgery. You know who's probably 10 times more pissed off than any fan? The man himself. It's so easy to criticize as a fan, from the outside looking in. Getting surgery is a big deal, and it wasn't a decision that the fans had to make. We didn't have to think about how it would effect our lives and our family, and we didn't have to think about rehab, or if we could play through the pain. We have no idea what pain he was feeling, or what it's like to play through an injury. Below are his numbers for the 17 games he's played this season. He has reportedly spent weeks working out 6 days a week and has lost 12 pounds. He's probably in better shape now than he was at any point during those 17 games and to me, for a guy that the Celtics will probably ask to play 12-15 minutes a game, I think there's a possibility he can still come through. I know most people have no faith in him and doubt he'll be able to contribute anything, because he's only played in 17 games all season. I think it's time to stop throwing dirt on his name. He's who we have, and it's time to buckle down and work with what we've got. Will he be an all star again? Probably not. But that's not what he's being asked to do here. I'm willing to say he might be able to be effective in small increments.

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