Studs and Duds from the Boston Celtics' First Slate of Games
Although the Boston Celtics have stumbled to a less-than-convincing 2-2 start, three players have carried their weight thus far.
It's hard to call anyone a stud when the team does not have a scorer averaging more than 20 points or a double-digit rebounder. Yet, the play of a certain three individuals has stood out through four games.
On the other hand, many are to blame for the poor opening slate. Fans, coaches and teammates have high expectations for this year's team; three Celtics have significantly failed to live up to expectations.
What's that you say? The Celtics are inconsistent in the regular season? Preposterous!
Before we break down who's been hot and who needs some more time in the gym, everybody take a deep breath.
There are 78 games left for the Celtics to get comfortable.
Dud #3: Jason Terry
2011-12 Averages: 31.7 minutes, 15.8 points, 37.8 percent three-point shooting
2012-13 Averages: 24.8 minutes, 10.5 points, 33.3 percent three-point shooting
Jason Terry will struggle all season to live up to a hype that goes a bit beyond what he can deliver.
With Dallas last season, Terry averaged 31.7 minutes per night. On a much deeper Celtics team, the "Jet" will not get as extensive playing time as he's used to.
Still, the journeyman shooting guard is supposed to provide a big spark off the bench. So far, he's just looked slow and proven to be a defensive liability.
Known for his instant-scoring capability, Terry is going to have to shoot better than his current 41 percent from the floor. More importantly, he needs to improve his shooting from beyond the arc.
On a team that will eventually sport five guards, the weakest will get left behind. It doesn't seem likely that Terry will fall out of the rotation. However, he will need to improve his production in limited minutes in order to fulfill his role on this team.
Stud #3: Leandro Barbosa
2011-12 Averages: 22.5 minutes, 12.2 points, 36 percent three-point shooting
2012-13 Averages: 10.8 minutes, 5.8 points, 57.1 percent three-point shooting
My campaign to get Leandro Barbosa more minutes starts now.
I was sold after his first regular season performance in Miami, one in which he chipped in 16 points. All of them came in an explosive fourth quarter that nearly brought the Celtics all the way back on opening night.
This early into the season, a performance like that is important for Barbosa to gain confidence from the coaching staff.
Further, Boston's defense hasn't been as sharp as is customary. They will sometimes need scoring in bunches to keep up with powerhouses like the Thunder and Heat. Barbosa is a great immediate option.
His sharpshooting from range this season (57.1 percent) eases the pain of Ray Allen shooting 59.1 percent in South Beach.
Dud #2: Doc Rivers
The fact of the matter is: Doc Rivers' Celtics have only beaten the Washington Wizards so far this year.
Losing opening night in Miami is acceptable; there were many factors on and off the court that contribute to the emotional start for both teams. Plus Miami is easily the best team in basketball right now. The Celtics looked completely overmatched all game.
But a loss to Milwaukee the next night? C'mon coach!
This team needs to shape up its regular season play in order to better position themselves for a postseason run. Slipping up against inferior teams is no longer an option.
What strikes me most is that the C's have yet to look fully comfortable at any point in any game.
With multiple new additions changing the team's dynamic, the responsibility falls on Rivers to have the squad playing together.
So far he has not answered the bell, and the results are obvious on the court.
Overtime against the Wizards? Really?
Stud #2: Brandon Bass
2011-12 Averages: 31.7 minutes, 12.5 points, 6.2 rebounds
2012-13 Averages: 29.0 minutes, 10.3 points, 7.3 rebounds
Brandon Bass is a true team player.
He put his body on the line last postseason, earning a contract renewal. When he signed it in July, Bass most likely presumed he’d be starting at the power forward position.
For the first two games, Bass’s assumption proved correct. But the Celtics were 0-2. Against the Wizards in the third game, Coach Doc Rivers decided to start rookie Jared Sullinger in Bass’s place.
This was clearly not because of weak individual performance from the seven-year veteran. He scored 15 points with ten rebounds against Miami and chipped in ten points and six rebounds against Milwaukee.
Bass had a strong opening but will have to deal with more limited minutes going forward if Sullinger continues to earn starter's minutes.
Now, Bass is a great scoring threat off the bench and a capable rebounding leader for the second unit. Although it is early on, Bass’s bench play at the outset could be a sign of a trend to come.
Boston will continue to be lucky to have his service, regardless of the role he plays.
Dud #1: Jeff Green
2011-12 Averages: N/A
2012-13 Averages: 21.8 minutes, 7.8 points, 2.0 rebounds
Jeff Green needs to revert to old form. I'm talking about Oklahoma City form.
Remember when he averaged 16.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in 2008-09? It's hard to imagine he was ever capable of that watching him play now.
Granted, Green's road back to the NBA has been far from an easy one. He deserves plenty of leeway to regain his confidence and get comfortable on the floor. After all, he did miss all of last season with a life-threatening heart condition.
But now that he's back, fans and teammates expect him to perform at a high level. The Celtics' success depends on it.
Green will need to prove to be more capable of scoring with the second unit, leading with his energy and athleticism.
The small forward's increasing involvement in the offense should eventually afford Paul Pierce more regular season rest. This will prove pivotal come playoff time, but only if Green is good enough now that the Celtics can afford to give him more minutes.
The biggest reason that he has been a dud so far is that Green was absolutely explosive during the preseason. In fact, he was so dynamic that I began to remember why trading Kendrick Perkins away for him was justifiable at the time.
After four games, Jeff Green still feels out of place. Will he ever get completely on track?
Stud #1: Rajon Rondo
Surprise! I picked Rajon Rondo as the most dynamic Celtics player through their opening slate.
If you're rolling your eyes, I understand. But check this out:
Player A Season Averages: 33.0 minutes, 22.4 points, 5.6 assists, 9.8 rebounds
Player B Season Averages: 42.3 minutes, 16.0 points, 12.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds
The two are not very comparable because they are a different breed of player. Also, LeBron is the best in the world.
However, the purpose of the exercise was to open your eyes to the fact that Rondo continues to be the Celtics MVP, regardless of their record through four games. Without him, Boston falls completely flat.
The sixth-year point guard can do it all—and will need to—for the C's to get themselves on track. Aside from a skirmish with Dwyane Wade at the end of the season opener (resulting in a flagrant foul on Boston's leader), Rondo has been every bit the leader the Celtics need.
Incorporating new faces into offensive and defensive schemes is no easy task, evidenced by Coach Rivers' struggles so far. Rondo is the most important element in ensuring future chemistry.
So far the guard has led by example. How soon will his teammates follow him?