4 Assumptions Boston Celtics Incorrectly Made About Their Roster
It's no secret that the Boston Celtics have issues, issues that GM Danny Ainge failed to address during the offseason.
It's not necessarily fair to rail on Ainge for the holes on this roster, as he did make numerous moves over the summer to try and improve the team. He just may not have gone about it the right way.
Now, the Celtics are without Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger for the remainder of the season, meaning we may see those holes grow even bigger. It hasn't seemed to bother the Celtics thus far, however, as they are currently one of the hottest teams in the league and are getting production from just about every single player on the roster.
How long will it last, though? Do moves need to be made?
All statistics in this article are accurate as of February 7th, 2013.
Every one of you readers probably anticipated that rebounding would be the first issue mentioned, and hey, you were right.
As it stands right now, the Celtics are the second-worst rebounding team in the league with only the Miami Heat trailing them in that category. Their lack of tenacity on the glass may become even more visible now that they have lost Sullinger for the season.
This is an issue that Ainge certainly failed to take care of over the summer, and it has no doubt cost Boston quite a few games this year. With Sullinger now shelved, Kevin Garnett is the only guy on the C's' frontcourt who consistently crashes the glass, and that could spell big trouble for the Celtics come playoff time.
Knowing that Sully had back issues when he was drafted and that Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox and Jason Collins do not exactly qualify as great rebounders, Ainge should have done more to rectify this problem during the offseason.
Fortunately, there is still time for Ainge to go out and do just that, but it isn't going to be easy. Big men don't grow on trees.
Low Post Offense
Just as he is their only rebounder, Kevin Garnett is the only reliable Celtic big man in the low post. Bass can shoot and Wilcox can score off of alley-oops, but neither are players who you can go to on the block to get you a bucket when you need it.
Now there are a lot of teams who lack a true low post presence. Heck, the Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder, arguably the league's two best teams, don't have any consistent post threats (Chris Bosh is not really a low post guy). Still, that doesn't mean it isn't important to have, and if the Celtics did have another interior scorer to put alongside of K.G., they would be an extremely difficult matchup for any squad.
Big men who can regularly score the basketball are hard to come by, but they are out there. For example, Carl Landry was a free agent over the summer, and he is now doing an incredible job with the Golden State Warriors. Maybe Boston should have taken a closer look at him?
It's great that the C's have Garnett, but he is going to be depended on far too much over the course of a seven-game series. Four or five years ago, this wouldn't have been an issue, but at his current age, it is undoubtedly a concern.
If I were Danny Ainge, I'd call the Phoenix Suns to see what it would take to pry Marcin Gortat away.
Once again with the frontcourt problems, huh?
The Celtics currently rank 26th in the NBA in blocks per game, obviously meaning that they have very little rim protection. Outside of K.G., is there really anyone on this ballclub who can challenge shots at the basket daily?
Boston had that extra shot-blocker last season in Greg Stiemsma, but he priced his way out of Boston and ended up signing with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The C's didn't really do anything to replace his production in terms of swats.
Wilcox and Collins may have some size, but they aren't shot blockers, and while Collins may be a guy who frequently uses intimidation tactics to deter opponents from getting to the hole, he just isn't good enough offensively to warrant enough playing time to make use of his physicality.
The Celtics' defense has improved significantly since early in the season, as it now ranks seventh in the league in defensive efficiency. However, the lack of any dependable shot blockers outside of Garnett is going to hurt against teams with slashers like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in the postseason.
No True Backup Point Guard
The Celtics have looked okay since Rondo went down with a torn ACL. The ball movement has been swift, guys are getting good looks, and the point guard-by-committee thing appears to be working.
The question is, how long will it continue?
Personally, I feel that point guard is one of the most overrated positions in sports. Think about it: how many great championship teams in recent memory won with a great floor general?
If you want to say the San Antonio Spurs with Tony Parker, fine, but he was only elite for one of those three titles that they won with him (2007). Outside of Parker, you have guys like Derek Fisher, Mario Chalmers, Jason Williams, a very, very raw Rondo, and an aging Jason Kidd who wasn't even a shell of the player he once was when the Dallas Mavericks won it all in 2011.
That being said, you should still have a true point guard on your roster, and Boston doesn't have that at the moment. Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, and Leandro Barbosa are all more than capable of handling the basketball, but in the heat of a big playoff game, are you going to rely on the playmaking abilities of those guys?
Now let's remember that Ainge did re-sign Keyon Dooling, only to see him retire. However, that was back in September, so there has been time for Ainge to fill this need. He hasn't.
Maybe Ainge feels confident in Lee, Terry, and Barbosa? And who knows; maybe it will work. It's just hard to feel comfortable without a floor general on the ballclub.
What It All Means
Look; every team has holes.
The Heat are even worse on the glass than the Celtics, the Thunder don't have an interior scorer, the New York Knicks depend far too heavily on the three-point shot, etc.
It's just a matter of whether or not you can work around those deficiencies or if you can patch them up.
Fortunately for Boston, the trade deadline has not come and gone just yet. There is still a window to make a move, and Ainge is certainly working the phones as we speak.
It's also fortunate for the C's that they simply have a talented roster. Sometimes, talent trumps all, and sometimes, it takes a major injury (like Rondo) for some of that talent to truly shine. You are now seeing guys like Lee and Barbosa get more opportunities now that they are getting more playing time.
So, all this really means is that the Celtics are like every other ballclub in the business in that they have issues. Of course, they don't have the talent of Miami or Oklahoma City to almost completely overshadow those issues, but they do have the ability to make a run. You never, ever want to wish injury on anyone, but all it takes is for one of the Heat's big three to go down, and suddenly Boston has a legitimate chance.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't be talking to every team in the NBA to see what's available, Danny.