Crushing the Competition: Is It Good for the Celtics?
Yesterday, the Celtics won again. By a lot. Again.
Did I enjoy watching the game? Absolutely. It's always fun to see your team have a little fun before destroying the opponent. But it got me thinking, what are the chances that the Celtics would pull a Dallas of yesteryear and collapse in the playoffs to an inferior opponent?
Part of the problem is that the Celtics are almost too good. No one on the roster averages more than 37 minutes a game. For all of you that don't know the length of a basketball game, it's 48 minutes, which means the Celtics starters are basically sitting out the fourth quarter.
This might seem like a good thing. After all, if you don't play 25 percent of your game, you're probably fresher for the next one, but think of the ramifications.
In the playoffs, life will get tougher. Outside perhaps the first round match up, the starters can expect to play a solid 42-45 minutes a night. Can they do it? Who knows? I don't watch every game, but from the ones that I've seen, only the Detroit games have merited full attention from the starting five.
And then there's the whole "recognition" factor. At the beginning of the year, the Celtics dominated national headlines.
But then everyone got bored with the whole "play good team defense" angle and moved on to bigger things, like the Rockets 22-game winning streak (seriously impressive), the New Orleans Hornets C3P (gets my MVP vote), and anything else Western Conference related.
Can the Celtics beat the West? Yes, they've proved it this year, but in the playoffs the intensity will be a whole lot different.
On the Celtics this year, Paul Pierce leads the team with 19.9 PPG, down from last years 25 PPG while taking four less shots a game.
Kevin Garnett, the ultimate double-double, is only scoring 18.9 PPG with 9.4 boards.
Ray Allen is contributing 18 PPG.
With Rondo and his 10.6 PPG, the Celtics have four of the five starters in double figures a night.
Their team defense however is what's truly striking. Last year the team was giving up 99 PPG. This year, that number is down to 90 PPG. Quite an improvement.
But can all the defense and balanced scoring work when it counts? Golden State rocked Mark Cuban's world, and it could certainly happen in Boston. But if I had to choose a team to win it all I'd still pick the Celtics for their unselfish scoring and their nose to the grindstone defense.
Plus have you seen Kevin Garnett in a close game? This one time, he almost ate his own jersey. That man is truly crazy. And every good team needs that one guy on the floor who just might be a little unhinged but can deliver the goods.
The goods in this case would be a 17th championship delivered to the City of Champions (I love that phrase).
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