The aging Celtics came out of the lockout looking very slow and definitely showing their old age.
They are playing very unexciting basketball right now and currently play at the slowest pace in the entire league, averaging only 88 possessions per game. Due to this slow pace, their scoring is also towards the bottom of the league. The Celtics are only scoring on average 90.2 ppg.
The way they are playing right now, it doesn’t appear the “Big Three” have another title run in them. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are all putting up their worst scoring averages since their rookie seasons seventeen, sixteen and fourteen years ago respectively.
With that said, the Celtics are a veteran team who is smart enough and experienced enough to overcome their weaknesses. Even though they only have a 15-12 record so far this season, here are five reasons the Celtics should still have hope that they can turn this season around and become title contenders once again.
Celtics’ management needs to decide quickly whether or not they think this team still has a chance of winning a championship.
If they determine their run is over, the Celtics should really try and trade their assets while they still have value. I believe a team that is making a playoff push would be willing to give up young talent, draft picks or take on bad contracts to acquire Pierce or Allen.
If they think they still do have a chance this season, it’s imperative that Celtics add depth to their roster before the deadline passes. They have one of the weakest benches in the NBA and could really use a starting center to replace O’Neal and a back-up PG to sub in for Rondo at times.
Rajon Rondo has all the tools necessary to lead a team to a championship.
Rondo’s best quality is he is extremely unselfish and is always looking to pass before shoot. He is second in the league in assists, only behind Steve Nash, with 9.8 per game. Having a PG like Rondo helps your team tremendously because he is always able to find the hot hand, no matter who it is.
Rondo’s jump shot is still the weakest part of his game, but he has proven he can score anyway by driving to the basket at will. He is scoring a career high 14.1 ppg this season, while shooting 49 percent from the field.
Even though Rondo has only played in nineteen games this season due to injuries, he’s already recorded six double-doubles so far this season. I believe the Celtics are a dangerous team to face in the playoffs since Rondo is one of the best PGs in the NBA.
A great coach is essential to any title run. Just think about the coaches who have won NBA championships since 2000. The list is Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich, Larry Brown, Pat Riley, Rick Carlisle and Doc Rivers.
Rivers completely changed the Celtics around when he was hired as head coach back in 2004. He helps his team win because he is one of the best coaches in the league at making mid-game adjustments when things aren't going his team's way.
In Rivers’ seven seasons as coach, the Celtics have finished first in the Atlantic Division five times. Since acquiring the “Big Three” four seasons ago, his winning percentage is an astounding 70.1 percent.
Having a former Coach of the Year leading the way definitely improves the Celtics’ chances of succeeding in the playoffs.
When the game is on the line in the fourth quarter, the team that wins is usually the one who has that one special player who completely takes over the final possessions of the game.
Paul Pierce is one of those special players. He averages an incredible 21.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in his career in the playoffs.
Pierce has come up clutch for his team numerous times throughout his career, in both the regular season and playoffs. Some of his most notable moments are his game-winner versus the Bulls in the 2009 playoffs and his buzzer-beater versus the Heat in the 2010 playoffs.
As long as the Celtics are able to stay close until the fourth quarter, Pierce is one of the few players in the NBA who can put his team on his back and close out games by himself.
KG, Allen and Pierce have gone to the playoffs a combined 27 times in their careers. Rondo is only 25 years old, but he too has tons of experience starting in the playoffs, making it four out of five times.
These players understand, even with the lockout, it’s still a very long season. They are definitely pacing themselves right now and I expect them to have the energy to break out and play their best basketball once the playoffs arrive in May.