5 Boston Celtics Players Who Must Step Up in Season's Second Half
The Boston Celtics have completed a rather despicable first half of the 2012-13 season. In a year filled with lofty expectations, the Celtics have hovered around .500 for the entirety of the first three months, demonstrating flashes of dominance but also blazes of absolute futility.
We can all pick which player we want to point our finger of blame at, but the reality is that there is more than one Celtic who is responsible for the ballclub's struggles. In fact, there are a few of them.
Boston is obviously an experienced team that has been through rough stretches over the years and always seems to land on its feet, so there is no reason why we can't expect the club to do that again this time around.
However, if that is going to happen, certain guys are going to need to step up. Just because a player may have an illustrious body of work does not mean that they are exempt from criticism.
It is actually tough to put into words how awful Brandon Bass has been. You know how sometimes numbers don't do players justice? Well, it's the other way around with Bass. The numbers don't really signify how terrible he has performed thus far.
Bass was integral to the Celtics' success last season, proving to be a vital part of the starting lineup and putting together some huge games in the playoffs. This year, it's difficult to point out one game where he had a strong positive impact.
The 27-year-old has bobbled more passes through the first three months of the 2012-13 campaign than Terrell Owens did throughout his entire career. He has also been fairly inconsistent with what used to be a very reliable mid-range jump shot, and his defensive rotations have been nothing short of abysmal.
Bass has clearly been one of the biggest issues for Boston. The C's expected consistent production out of their starting power forward, and they are not getting it. Either he needs to up his game in the second half of the year, or he needs to see his minutes drastically cut in favor of Jared Sullinger and Chris Wilcox.
While Paul Pierce isn't having a bad season by any stretch of the imagination, he could certainly afford to be more steady in his production.
In the four losses prior to falling to the New York Knicks on Thursday night, Pierce was averaging 11.8 points per game and 31 percent shooting, hitting on only two of his 15 three-point attempts. That is simply unacceptable for a player of his caliber.
Pierce is the captain of the Celtics for a reason, and he needs to start playing like one night in and night out. Yes, it's perfectly understandable that he does not want to go all out during the regular season so he can conserve some energy for the playoffs, but at this point, Boston needs The Truth to be The Truth.
The 35-year-old is shooting only 42.2 percent from the floor, his lowest mark since 2003-04. He needs to dig deep over the next couple of months and better his efficiency.
The Celtics brought Jason Terry in to provide them with some instant offense off the bench.
He hasn't done that.
Terry is averaging only 9.8 points per game, his worst mark since his rookie year back in 1999-00. For comparison's sake, excluding his rookie campaign, Terry's lowest average is 12.4 points per contest. He is well on his way to breaking that number this season.
In The Jet's defense, head coach Doc Rivers is still not using him right. For some reason, Rivers is still basically forcing Terry to play the Ray Allen role by running off screens to get himself an open look from three, but that isn't the type of player Terry is. He is a guy who can create his own shots with the ball in his hands, so Doc needs to give him more freedom.
Terry's shooting percentages of 42.2 percent overall and 35.2 percent from long range are below his career marks off 44.2 percent and 37.9 percent, respectively. He has yet to really leave his fingerprints on a string of games thus far.
He will need to do that in the closing months.
While Jeff Green has improved significantly in the month of January, shooting 47.4 percent from the floor as opposed to 42.1 percent in November and 41.4 percent in December, it would still be nice to see some more consistency out of the 26-year-old forward.
Green has displayed plenty of flashes of brilliance, but also too many moments of ineptitude. He clearly has incredible talent and is capable of changing a game in more ways than one thanks to his extraordinary athleticism. However, it's almost as if he is running on autopilot at times.
Green also needs to do a better job on the glass. He is averaging only 4.9 rebounds per 36 minutes, and that is just not enough out of someone who is 6'9", especially when your team is struggling to rebound the basketball as it is.
It would be nice to see Green get more aggressive and take the ball to the basket instead of settling for his incessant fadeaway jumpers during the second half.
There is no question that Rajon Rondo is one of the best players in the league, and there is also no debate that he is having yet another impressive year. However, he can be better. Rondo still appears to go through the motions against inferior opponents, and it ends up costing his team in the end.
Yes, it is human nature to up your level of play against stronger competition, as evidenced by the mercurial point guard's 30-point outburst versus the Chicago Bulls and triple-double against the Knicks. But, being that Rondo's performance is absolutely crucial to the Celtics' success, you can't have him turning the ball over nine times against the Detroit Pistons. It's probably tough to get up for a team like Detroit, but Rondo needs to do just that.
If you take a look at Rondo's game log this season, you will see a ton of variation. For someone who is only 26 years old, this shouldn't be happening. That type of thing is expected from veterans like Pierce and Kevin Garnett who are attempting to save their legs for the grind of a postseason run.
All things considered, now that Boston is in a rather precarious position and really needs to start picking things up if it wants to make a push for a higher seed, expect headband Rondo to come out to play.