NBA Playoffs 2012: 4 Burning Questions for the Boston Celtics
As promising a second half of the season that Paul Pierce and these Boston Celtics have had, there are still several question that have to be answered heading into the postseason.
Early on in the season, the Celtics failed to maintain more wins than losses. Today, they are the No. 4 team in the East and have had their moments reminiscent of their 2008 championship run.
In spite of the success this team has had as of late, these Celtics have plenty of areas in which they need to prove themselves.
These are the four burning questions that Boston has to answer in these 2012 NBA playoffs.
Can Rajon Rondo Bring It Against the East's Best PG?
Offensively, there's no doubt that Rajon Rondo can give an opposing point guard problems with his ability to get to the basket and find knockdown shooters.
That's a given.
Yet defensively, as great as Rondo has proven himself to be, against Derrick Rose and the league's best he seems to be overpowered at times.
Dating back to last season, Rondo has been unable to slow down Rose.
In his last five games against the Boston Celtics, Rose is averaging 25.8 points and 6.8 assists per game while shooting 43.6 percent.
There's no question Rondo can make his impact felt offensively, as he's averaging a double-double this season with points (12.1 PPG) and assists (11.6 APG).
Against Rose, however, the All-Star will have to step up his play on the defensive end.
Can KG Sustain the Intensity on Both Ends of the Floor?
When Kevin Garnett gets aggressive on both ends of the floor, the Boston Celtics win basketball games. Yet with age comes fatigue, as Garnett may not be able to sustain a strong level of play on both ends for the entire postseason.
Based on the second half of the season, one would think Garnett certainly has what it takes.
Thirteen of his 21 double-doubles this season have come since a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder just prior to the All-Star break.
What's more, of the 19 games where Garnett has scored at least 20 points, 11 of them have come since that Thunder loss at the end of February.
Talk about impressive.
If KG can look to get his shot off offensively and control the paint in the rebounding department, there's no question the Celtics boast a strong advantage in the playoffs.
Are Avery Bradley, Greg Stiemsma Ready for the Playoffs?
Both Avery Bradley and Greg Stiemsma have stepped up in a big way towards the end of the season for the Boston Celtics, but the playoffs are the playoffs.
It will be interesting to see whether or not these two rising talents have the ability to sustain their high level of play in the NBA playoffs—when the pressure is on.
This season, Bradley has been a major contributor defensively, as has Stiemsma. Bradley has brought a tenacious, on-ball pressure while Stiemsma has given Boston a major shot-blocker inside.
If these two can make the most of their minutes—particularly with their defensive talents—the Celtics starting-five will have a much easier time taking care of opponents.
Can the Big Three and Rondo Stay Healthy for the Entirety of the Playoffs?
Heading into the 2012 NBA playoffs, Kevin Garnett has a hip flexor injury, Rajon Rondo has a sore lower back and Ray Allen is still dealing with bone spurs.
On top of that, in spite of playing in the team's victory over the Heat, Paul Pierce is also suffering from a toe injury.
The Celtics have proven that they are a team to be reckoned with this postseason, putting forth a sound second half of the season. Boston has looked more fluid offensively and just as strong on the defensive end as they did when making a run at a championship in 2008.
Injuries are undoubtedly the one obstacle that this team will have to overcome.
It's clear these Big Three are older, as fatigue could get the best of this talented squad.