Boston Celtics: 5 Flaws Already Exposed on the Team
From the previous lockout in the 50-game 1998-1999 season, we learned that older maybe better.
In that year, the four oldest teams had the league's best records, and the San Antonio Spurs, who fell into that category, ended up winning the championship.
The reason for that trend was the experience factor. Among the difficulties of playing in a shortened season, is a lack of practice time, which leads to chemistry problems. Especially, when major players are either removed or added to a team.
For this year's Boston Celtics, that's a good thing to hear. Though they are one of the older teams in the NBA, the trend may not hold true for them. That's because two games into the 2011-2012 campaign, we're seeing some mistakes that tend to be issues on teams with several new players.
Lucky for Boston, all of these flaws I'm about to list aren't unfixable. There's a lot good going on for this team against two of the best teams early on, so I don't see a cause for concern.
1. Front Court Flaws
The Celtics we've come to know over the past four years were characterized by tough defense, led by Kevin Garnett. They're allowing an average of 110.5 points two games in, and part of that can be credited to the lockout since others too are struggling.
The fact that they've already played two of the most dynamic offenses in the NBA is also a factor.
However, things aren't going to get any easier. Over the past week I've been raving about how improved and underrated this frontcourt has been, but it's not looking good so far.
Jermaine O'Neal and Chris Wilcox have had close to no impact. Brandon Bass doesn't look like he can do anything other than shoot the ball.
Defensively, there are major issues—as for Kevin Garnett.
2. Where Is Kevin Garnett?
Except for a rough "mush" (as stated by Charles Barkley) with Bill Walker at the end of the Christmas game, Garnett hasn't made any sort of impact against the Knicks nor the Heat.
Against New York he struggled, going 6-for-13 from the field for 15 points. With Paul Pierce out, that's not going to cut it. Doc Rivers needs KG, now healthy, to be at this best. That means asking for the ball down low and controlling the paint on defense.
If Garnett isn't aggressive as we've known him to be in the past, then teams will continue to score inside like they have been so far.
3. Celtics Look Hopeless Without Rondo on the Court
People will be quick to point out that Boston's bench has been impressive so far, including 40 points against Miami.
Well, that's good and all, but most of that has come with Rondo still on the floor.
Keyon Dooling and Brandon Bass were vital in the comebacks nearly pulled off in both games, but it was Rondo that fueled those spurts. When he's not in the game kicking it out to Ray Allen, Boston has really struggled.
When Paul Pierce returns, he'll definitely shoulder some of that load. But, the Celtics really need another point guard to control things when they're best player is on the bench.
4. Turnovers Are Piling Up
Every team is struggling with turnovers and defense so far, because of the lengthened offseason. A lot of practice time is dedicated to putting together solid team defense, and the Celtics are no exception.
Against New York, they had 18 turnovers, most of them early, and cost them the game. Versus Miami, it didn't get any better when 24 turnovers led to their downfall. Against fast and athletic teams, you just can't afford to give the ball up that many times.
In both games, Doc Rivers' group has shot 51 percent from the field, which is an excellent mark, but they're down on possessions while giving up too many points in transition.
5. Foul Trouble Early
While Boston has been on the receiving end of some controversial calls as of late, the team hasn't been all that smart on defense regardless.
Without much depth, especially in the front court as we've already established, Rivers can't afford to have his bigger bodies like O'Neal out of the game so early.
At an average of 28 fouls per game, they're at the top of the NBA in that category. It's led to an average of 34.5 attempts at the charity stripe.
So, if we combine errant fouls with several turnovers, the end result isn't going to be good. Once again, these aren't impossible to fix as the season progresses. In addition, the return of Paul Pierce will only make things better.
Celtics Nation deserves to be content with the way this team has handled adversity early on.