Boston Celtics: 20 Games Into the Season, What Have We Learned?

B.Contributor IDecember 7, 2010

The Celtics extended their win streak to seven after the crushing defeat of the Bulls at home 92-104 and a complete blowout of the Nets on the road 100-75, now holding the best record of the Eastern Conference and tied second in the league. The past few games have revealed more about the potentials deepest team in the NBA.

Old timers make a return

First of all, Shaq is a monster. He is averaging a phenomenal 68.8% from the field. Most importantly, on the defensive end, he is doing everything right in the 22 minutes a game he gets. He provides a huge presence and knows when to foul and is the main reason they are leading the league in terms of field goal percentage. This is perhaps the best I've seen of Shaq since his tumble in the Miami Heat.

The other front court starter, Kevin Garnett, is regaining his flare from his days as a young Timberwolves cub. He is averaging almost a double-double this season thanks to his recent comeback while making over 50% of his attempts.

Ray Allen, after a brief setback in Portland, has made a small comeback. He seems to be adjusting to his (at times) shooting slumps through going to the bucket. It's simply amazing seeing a 35 year old outrunning even some of the younger players.

Bench regulars improve

There is a lot of talent on the bench. Semih Erden is proving to be a very reliable big man that the Celtics should develop. Glen Davis lost some baby fat and seems to be moving at much more ease than before. Nate Robinson is making a comeback for the injured Rondo and Marquis Daniels is completely recovered from his injury.

Rondo needs a break

Rondo's mileage is finally catching up on him as he missed multiple games and might miss the next one. Doc needs to seriously consider giving Nate and maybe even Avery Bradley more minutes.

Depth Problems

Due to various injuries, the Celtics are actually having depth problems. Doc is unable to rest too many of his starters at a time since the second unit keeps losing leads. Glen Davis, Marquis Daniels and Semih Erden all feed off of an off-the-dribble creator. Nate Robinson lacks the ability to distribute. Doc had to resort to resting a couple of his starters at a time only.

...Or not...

At the colder end of the bench, Luke Harangody, Von Wafer and Avery Bradley were asked to step up at the Nets game as Doc felt his starters must rest. And so they did. In the latest victory, the three held Devin Harris and his Nets down with tough wholehearted defense even with a large double digit cushion. Their put in more effort than most NBA players do and play very inspired basketball and that has made up for the lack of set plays they have.

With four players missing practice and the roster smaller, the chances of the three playing more significant minutes have increased. Hopefully, they could gain Doc's trust, which is not easy, while playing Denver.

Final Words

The old timers have stepped their game up another notch.

The thinning bench suddenly doesn't seem so thin again as the three less seen players show they can make up for not knowing the Celtics system very well by getting dirty on both ends by tough defense, chasing down loose balls and generally hustling. The Denver game is crucial for the three to shine and give Doc a larger rotation.