Blog Entry

Road to the Finals: Boston Celtics

Posted on: April 7, 2011 2:19 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 4:20 pm
Posted by Royce Young

If I were writing this piece a month and half ago, things might be a bit more optimistic. If I were writing this piece a month and a half ago, I think I'd likely be skipping all talk about the first and second rounds and going straight to possible Eastern and even NBA Finals opponents.

But a lot happened over the past 45 days or so. A lot happened that drastically changed the outlook of the 2010-11 season for the Boston Celtics.

You know the story. Danny Ainge decided to trade ubuntu cornerstone and family member Kendrick Perkins away for Jeff Green and a balding 27-year-old. The team was now relying on Shaquille O'Neal's 39-year-old body to heal up and be ready for the grind of the playoffs. The team was banking on Green -- a notoriously inconsistent player -- to consistently provide a scoring punch off the bench and stabilize things on the wing. The team was trying to keep an eye toward the future while still focusing on the now.

Except the now might've been badly damaged.

Since the Perkins trade, the Celtics are 13-9. They're giving up more points per possession, scoring less and losing to teams they almost always handle. Now my personality is anti-panic, so I'm definitely not doing anything of the sort for Boston. But let's face the music here: The team is much different without Perkins. Differently in personality, different in personnel, different in ability. Boston is really missing not just that one-on-one post defender they had in Perk, but what his attitude and intensity brought as well. 

Road To The Finals
I really agree with Bill Simmons, who knows that team better than anyone. They really believed in their group. They believed in the fact nobody had ever beat them when they were at full strength. They walked with a serious swagger, they believed in each other. I'm not exactly sure what message was sent to the team when Ainge traded Perkins, but I don't think it was a positive one. You can spin that deal any way you want -- it was for the future, the Celtics needed a wing, it helps the bench -- the players didn't respond well to it. And the actual team is the most important factor in all of this.

As it stands going into tonight's matchup with the Bulls, Boston sits second in the East, tied with the Heat and three back of the Bulls. Gone is the possibility of the top seed and it'll be a tussle to place second too. The Celtics are headed for an opening round series with either Philadelphia or New York. Fifty days ago, Boston looks superior in every way against both those teams. Now, things look a bit more iffy.

But here's where we pump the brakes.

The Celtics are, in fact, still 54-23. (Know what they were last year when they stormed to The Finals? 50-32 and fourth in the East.) They Celtics are, in fact, still good. They still have Ray Allen. They still have Kevin Garnett, They still have Paul Pierce. They still have Rajon Rondo. Maybe they're missing a big, mean-looking piece in the middle, but it can be overcome.

They defend. They score in crunch time. They're playoff tested. These guys know how to win. They know what it takes. Nobody has quite the same motivation as the Celtics, because nobody else suffered a painful Game 7 defeat in The Finals last June. Doc Rivers talked about how the team has that same excitement for the game and each other that it had in training camp in 2007 when they went on to win it all. This team is still very, very good.

Keep in mind, Perkins had only played in 11 games with Boston this season. The Celtics have experienced most of their success this season without him. But again, that's just without him on the floor. People tend to underestimate things like chemistry. Though Perk might not have been playing, the rest of the team knew he was coming soon, and really just in time for when they really needed him.

Is this Boston group a true Finals contender? Of course. Absolutely they are. The Celtics could trade Ray Allen and Paul Pierce and they'd still have Miami's number just because they're in the Heat's head completely. But no longer can this group take things for granted. They aren't going to cruise past the 76ers or Knicks. And despite having the Heat by the tail, they aren't going to just skip past them either.

Then it's about the Bulls. Doc Rivers and Ainge can tell themselves that getting Shaq back will be an answer in matching up inside with Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer. That might be true. But things are different now for the Celtics. They've lost a little something. An edge, a mentality, a swagger -- whatever. And they may have lost their chance at it all this year too.

Since: Mar 10, 2008
Posted on: April 14, 2011 6:23 pm

Road to the Finals: Boston Celtics

Everyone is tired of seeing the Flakers.How would that be an epic series.  If its not Celtics vs. Flakers it's just a game.If you want 2 teams that are porbably equally matched as far as talent, age, decade emergence the Finals should beBulls vs. Thunders!!I'm no fan of both, but this would be more of an interesting Finals.

Since: Feb 24, 2009
Posted on: April 13, 2011 12:53 am

Road to the Finals: Boston Celtics

As a Bulls fan Im pulling for a Bulls-Celts ECF. That series from 2 years ago was epic and I would like to see if the matchup could rekindle that drama. (yes, im well aware that a ton has changed but Im still hoping) That plus I really don't like Miami.

Since: Nov 6, 2006
Posted on: April 8, 2011 12:05 am

Road to the Finals: Boston Celtics

Sorry, I meant Perk DOES bring a toughness...

Since: Nov 6, 2006
Posted on: April 8, 2011 12:04 am

Road to the Finals: Boston Celtics

WISE UP, everyone...Kendrick Perkins would not make this team better overall. Yes, he doesn't bring a toughness and shot blocking to the table. But did anyone watch them tonight? The offense is so inept right now. Perk would not help that. The bottom line is, these moves were made out of necessity more than anything, because of injuries. If Delonte West doesn't break his wrist, C's don't have to get another backup PG. If Marquis Daniels doesn't go down for the season, the Perk trade may not have happened. Ainge HAD to get someone to give Pierce or Ray Ray rest. Who was he going to use, Sasha P? That became more important. Perk wanted more money and wasn't going to sign for what Boston could pay him. And don't say the C's are being cheap. For every mil you are over the cap, you pay another mil. He got way more money with OKC. It was a hard decision for Ainge to trade him, but he had to get pieces. He got another Center, which was needed, and someone to play SF in Green...and oh yeah, a 1st round pick. What a horrible trade. C'mon, people, use your heads. I know Ainge has to push all in to win a title with this aged group, but he has to think about the big picture and have SOMEONE to go along with Rondo after KG, Pierce and Allen leave, or Rondo will leave too while in his prime.

Since: Oct 11, 2010
Posted on: April 7, 2011 10:40 pm
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Since: Dec 27, 2007
Posted on: April 7, 2011 9:22 pm

Road to the Finals: Boston Celtics

Boston vs LA? I hope not. Boston-San Antonio? better. LA-Miami? Better.

Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: April 7, 2011 9:01 pm

Road to the Finals: Boston Celtics

How about No.

Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: April 7, 2011 9:00 pm

Road to the Finals: Boston Celtics

It's foolish how everyone is turning this into a Shaq story, why? The man is 38 years old, he is nothing more than a ROLE player.....Perkins has always been well this would happened if, or that would of happened if....he's on the Thunder, get the f*** over it people.....You have 3 guys who can play Center, you don't need one guy.....Shaq knows he is a role guy, he isn't the star....he doesn't get paid 20 million a year anymore.I know i wouldn't want to go inside on Jermaine & Shaq , there big bodies & good defenders....

How bout them Sox! lol

Since: Nov 14, 2008
Posted on: April 7, 2011 8:46 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Dec 4, 2009
Posted on: April 7, 2011 7:54 pm

Road to the Finals: Boston Celtics

Dyon003 your post makes zero sense. You say the Celtics can't keep up with anyone because they are old and slow but if Perkins was there he would some how make the team young and fast? You do realize they don't play back to back games in the playoffs right? Celtics may very well get beat in the eastern confernce playoffs but it will be a tough 7 game series. You may hate the Celtics but if you believe Chicago or any other team is going to make them look stupid then you have no clue about basketball.

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