With Kevin Garnett out of the playoffs, look for the Celts to seek elsewhere for players to step up.
Sure you've got your usual suspects Paul Pierce and Ray Allen who will play their regular role and contribute well. They always step up when needed.
However, even though the team has played almost a full year together, last year they were pushed to six or seven games nearly every round. It'll be very hard for them this year without the leadership of Garnett on the floor.
Rajon Rondo has stepped up big time this year. He has matured a lot, his strength and endurance have grown; however in my mind, this is the most important player that needs to step up, when Allen or Pierce or both are on the bench.
Rondo needs to take the leadership of this team and become the presence of Garnett. I believe once he does this, it will become his team. He has the talent and charisma to do that, and just needs to pick it up on the take-charge part. He needs to pick it up on the points and rebounds per game to give this team a chance.
Stephon Marbury—he'll get plenty of playing time now, but he needs to stop using the excuse of being out of playing shape and step up. His defense has been pretty decent, but inconsistent.
Same with his shooting, especially his three-point shot. He has had some problems fouling out early and needs to put his emotions aside. His passing has been great, but he needs to put his fears aside and not worry about past problems with a non-team atmosphere. I love that he passes, but he's a great shooter and needs to shoot the ball.
Mikki Moore—the team picked him up this year because they wanted a 7' 0" center and forward at the helm to come in off the bench and start occasionally. However he has looked lost on the floor like he still needs to learn the play book.
From what I've seen, the only time he seems with it, is when Garnett is on the floor. He also needs to take charge and learn the individual plays for himself.
He seems to do well with picks and getting in plays for the rebounds, but he needs to start getting his jump shot out in better spots and pass the ball when he's not open. Some ball protection on his part would be nice, too. Almost every time I turn around he's either throwing the ball away or getting it stolen from him.
Eddie House—one of the main reason's we resigned him this year was because he did a great job when players were hurt and off the bench last year. Next to Rondo, this is another big key player that needs to step up.
All in all, these are the players that should step up in my mind. However, just cause everyone is down about Garnett, don't count him out—this could be just one of those ploys to get teams relaxed.
You see this all the time in sports. If Garnett don't count the Celtics out. They still have the tools to make it past the first round. Once this team gets rolling, you better watch out.