Reasons Boston Celtics Will Flame Out in the Playoffs
To dismiss the Celtics 14-6 record since losing superstar point guard Rajon Rondo may seem blasphemous, but it’s the right thing to do.
Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce’s tired legs can only lead them so far, and one cannot trust Jeff Green to consistently play well for several consecutive games. Not to mention the problems of Jordan Crawford’s role and the Celtics' horrid record on the road.
Enjoy the regular season while you can, Celtics fans. The playoffs will not pan out as well.
No Rajon Rondo
The old cliche goes: The playoffs separate the men from the boys. Translation: Great players shine and leave the good players in the dust.
Boy, the Celtics have a lot of good players on their roster right now, huh?
How quick we are to forget Rajon Rondo’s performance in last year’s playoffs. Check out his postseason game log here.
You read that correctly. That is one, two, three, four triple-doubles in 19 games. And, yes, he failed to score in double-digits in only three games and dished out at least six assists every single night.
Rajon Rondo would finish the 2012 playoffs averaging 17.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 11.9 assists per game. It’s also worth mentioning that, before his season-ending injury in January, he was averaging 13.7 points, 5.6 rebounds (both career highs) and 11.1 assists (0.6 short of his career high).
Some will argue the Celtics have been better without Rondo, and that is actually a fair point. The Celtics have reinvented their style of play, relying more on Garnett and Pierce and sharing the ball more often.
However, the concern is that they have only been better in 20 regular-season games. Come playoff time, they will need a man to step up and lead.
And that was supposed to be Rondo.
Garnett and Pierce Are Old
We know exactly what you Celtics fans are thinking.
“You’re saying we need a superstar to succeed in the playoffs? How about two? Have you ever heard of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett?”
Matter of fact, we have. We have been listening to those guys names since 1998 and 1995, respectively.
Yep, we are making this argument again, folks. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are two of the games greatest players (both all-time and at present), but they are weathered. Veterans. In short, old.
It is true (and not surprising at all) that both have stepped up since Rondo’s injury. Unfortunately, that will backfire eventually come playoff time.
Not to mention the Celtics have played a total of 11 OT games (and 16 OT periods) this season—good for a franchise record. That’s a lot of minutes
At this pace, one has to assume that 35- and 36-year-old legs will give out in late April. If not then, they will eventually tire from chasing the likes of LeBron James, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in (at least) four games at a time.
The silver lining for Celtics fans is that they can wish this article finds its way to Pierce and Garnett. We all know how they love to prove critics wrong time and time again.
Good Green, Bad Green
Here is Jeff Green in Celtics wins: 12.1 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.6 ASP and 47.5-percent shooting in 26.1 minutes.
During losses, Green posts 9.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 0.8 APG and 41.3-percent shooting in 25.4 minutes. (Note: this does not include the recent loss to the Bobcats.)
In short, Jeff Green is good in wins and significantly worse in losses. Fair to say that the Celtics need Jeff Green to do well in order to win games.
Can they trust him to consistently do well come playoff time? Short answer? No. Long answer: They can trust him in one to three games per series, but that’s about it.
Jeff Green will let you down at some point or another.
Just take his numbers in the last ten games (via ESPN.com's game log) before the loss to Charlotte (in which he recorded 14 points, three rebounds and 1 assist on 4-11 shooting and 30 minutes, by the way).
Jeff Green will literally shoot less than 50-percent from the field once every two nights. You can also count on him to score less than ten points about once every five or six games. Sure, he’ll have 31-point explosions in between, but eventually he’ll leave you hanging when you need him the most.
But, hey, he can dunk! Does that help? Is there a dunk competition in between games?
Rebounding Is Still an Issue
The Celtics were already one of the worst rebounding teams in the league with rookie Jared Sullinger. Take him out of the green equation, and you got yourself the second-worst rebounding team in the NBA in terms of differential.
Yeah, it’s that bad.
Kevin Garnett, once the rebounding leader in the league, tops the Celtics' rebounding charts with a mere 7.9 rebounds a game. That’s right, the Celtics leading rebounder doesn’t even manage to grab a solid eight rebounds per game.
If that wasn’t enough, opposing teams grab an outstanding 11.5 offensive rebounds per game against Boston. That is the third-worst number among Eastern playoffs teams (they are trailed by the Bucks and the Bulls).
That will inevitably lead to some Celtic losses. We can already hear Doc Rivers in the post-game conference: “We need to do a better job on the glass, we just got to.”
Uncertainty over Jordan Crawford
Teams generally win NBA titles with a deep nine-man roster. That is, your five starters, a sixth man and three role players to do the jobs they are assigned.
The Celtics have their starters in place (Courtney Lee, Avery Bradley, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett), a sixth man (Jeff Green) and some role players off the bench (Jason Terry and Chris Wilcox).
If you’re good at math, you will notice that we are missing one bench player.
That player, ladies and gentlemen, should be Jordan Crawford.
So what’s the problem?
The Celtics play a certain style of basketball; you hear Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers talking about their system all the time. It’s unknown whether Crawford will learn the system anytime soon.
And given his recklessness on the floor, we have a feeling it might take more than half a season.
Maybe next year, Jordan.
The Dreaded Road
The Celtics are a mere 12-20 on the road, “good” for the worst road record among Eastern Conference playoff teams.
It is highly unlikely the Celtics will get any sort of home advantage in the playoffs, as they are currently sitting at the sixth seed.
A bad road team combined with a lot of road games leads to a dangerous results: losses and an early exit from the playoffs.
Miami, Indiana and New York
We needed to end this here, folks.
The Celtics have been impressive as of late—true. They have beaten all three of these teams mentioned above—also true. In fact, they are undefeated against Indiana.
However, all of those teams are currently playing better basketball, and would most likely beat the Celtics in a seven-game series. They all either allow fewer points per game or score more points. But, most importantly, they all have a higher point-differential average than the Celtics.
In fact, Boston averages a minus-0.2 point differential per game.
Any one of these teams means trouble for the Celtics in the playoffs.
Unless we see upsets like never before seen in the NBA, Boston will see one of them eventually.
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