At some point they will need to address what to do when Garnett exits the game. Rumors of interest in Phoenix center Marcin Gortat have surfaced but nothing is likely to happen until after December 15 when players signed over the summer are eligible to be traded (Lee, Bass, Green). Gortat would solve the post scoring and rebounding problems for Boston but nothing is remotely close in that trade scenario.
Where Boston is particular putrid is in the area of rebounding, ranking dead last in the stat both defensively and offensively. The caveat to the offensive deficiency is that they shoot a high percentage, ranking second in field goal percentage, which gives them less opportunity to hit the glass on that side of the floor. But defensively… there simply is no excuse.
Boston’s defensive prowess has been a staple of the team since the inception of the Big Three era. This year with younger and faster athletes, the defensive has taken a huge step backwards. Currently they are 20th in opponents points per game (down from third a season ago). Couple that with the staggering fact that they allow 44.3 points in the paint per game (29th overall), and it is hard to see where things will get better for the Boston defense. In a loss to the Spurs, they allowed San Antonio to score 58 points in the paint.
The hope is that Bradley will return to be a menacing force on the perimeter, which will deter opponents from driving to the basket. He and Lee can create a lethal defensive backcourt combo when Rondo needs to rest (keep in mind Rondo is pretty special on defense himself). Still, Boston seems like they need a shot blocker to help patrol the paint. With Darko Milicic no longer with the team and Greg Stiemsma in Minnesota, they lack a big who can enforce the paint with regularity.
Despite all the negative stats surrounding the team, Doc Rivers is positive and feels like this is the best team the Celtics have had since their championship in ’07-’08. The diversity of the roster is what he likes but it has caused him some trepidation trying to deploy the most effective lineups each game. The new pieces, along with Rondo’s masterful facilitation, have the offense up from 26th last year to 15th this season in scoring, as Paul Pierce is still one of the game’s best closers.
The Celtics aren’t broken but they could use some tweaking. Many times, the Celtics are wrongfully counted out and then they emerge defiantly from the restrictions of their age and the ice packs that fill their locker room. They know they aren’t perfect but they hope to be just right when the playoffs come because for them, it’s never about they start, but how they finish.
How deep will Boston go in the playoffs this year?
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