As the NBA regular season comes down to the home stretch we are starting to get a clearer view of the playoff picture.
With all of the evidence that we have been given it is time to start forming opinions, and making predictions about what is to come in the upcoming months. However, while every pundit on TV spews their infinite knowledge, or radio talk show host try to fill airtime, most of the comments that I commonly hear about the Boston Celtics are simply false.
Every informed opinion is as valid as another, but that is no reason to be misinformed about what you are commenting on.
Here are the most common myths I have heard about the Celtics as we inch closer to the playoffs.
Maybe this was true, and in a world where first-impressions are everything, many analysts and fans are stuck on the “Celtics are too old” bandwagon. To be honest, at the start of the year, I too thought most of the Celtic’s starting lineup was one crossover away from a broken hip.
Things have changed.
The cold hard numbers are when the Celtics started the season, the average age of their starters (Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Garnett, O’Neal) was 32.8 years old. Today, the average age of their lineup (Rondo, Bradley, Pierce, Bass, Garnett) is only 28.4 years old. That’s a decrease of four-and-a-half years since December.
How does this compare to Chicago and Miami?
Average age of the Bull’s lineup (Rose, Hamilton, Deng, Boozer, Noah): 28.0.
Average age of the Heat’s lineup (Chalmers, Wade, James, Bosh, Turiaf): 27.8.
The fact is that there is little to no difference between the three teams.
There is no doubt Garnett’s been more productive, but the reasons for it have nothing to do with the “official” move to center (though I think he’s been the real center for the past year).
When Garnett is on the floor, he is now the big man for the Celtics. He does not have to compete with O’Neal for blocks, rebounds or buckets in the paint. That is why he’s blown up on the box score.
Through March & April, Greg Stiemsma has averaged 18.4 and 19.7 productive minutes per game, respectively. This has helped build confidence for Doc Rivers to allow Garnett to get a full rest without the fear of the team slipping with him on the bench. That rest is why Garnett looks far more explosive when he is on the court.
Banged up? Maybe. Lack of depth? Nope. Actually, the Celtic’s have one of the most playoff-ready benches in the East.
Ray Allen: Since making the move from starting SG to sixth man, Allen has become one of the best sixth men in the Eastern Conference. When Allen plays with the team’s second unit, he becomes the first option. Ultimately, this allows Allen more opportunities to do what he does best—shoot.
Greg Stiemsma: In the previous slide I went over why he is valuable to Garnett, and that brings major value to the bench.
Mickael Pietrus: He has averaged about 20 minutes and seven points a game off the bench. That is just the type of production the Celtics will need from him when Pierce needs a breather.
If you can have three or four bench players contribute productive minutes that is all you need in the payoffs.
Here’s bad news for Celtic fans. The Celtic’s will not win the East.
Not because of their age, depth, scoring or any of the myths that you may hear on TV or radio, but simply due to their inability to rebound the ball. Currently, they are dead last in rebounds per game throughout the NBA.
- In the past 10 years, eight of the 10 Eastern Conference champions have finished in the top 10 in total rebounding, and all but one of the 10 teams were at least in the top half of the league.
You can’t win in the playoffs if you can’t rebound. The teams are too good and will destroy you if they are allowed too many second-chance opportunities.
For example, Boston did beat Miami earlier this week, but they allowed a staggering 18 second-chance points. If that happens in the playoffs they may not even make it out of the first round.