Boston Celtics: The One Seed Fades as the Pieces Fall

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Boston Celtics: The One Seed Fades as the Pieces Fall
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Posters on my wall, jerseys and a collection of sports cards. It is safe to say that my obsession with Ray Allen is ever-peaking. 

Consequently, it was difficult for me to have too many “Oh come on! What the hell are we doing out there!?” moments during part two of this year's Celtics/Lakers series. 

For one, Allen's record-breaking moment had everything. TNT Thursday against the Lakers, at home, with (now former) three-point champ Reggie Miller on the sideline broadcasting. The moment, in which Allen showed much more (warranted) emotion than we are accustomed to, somehow made a highly anticipated regular season game against LA seem unimportant. 

This was history. A record that, five years down the road, may be virtually unreachable. Allen will go down as one of the best pure shooters of all-time with an impeccable resume. At age 35, Allen is an All-Star and arguably in better shape than anyone in the league. He is also shooting a ridiculous 50.5 percent from the field and 45.9 percent from the three, his career-best in both categories. 

The record has temporarily overshadowed a greater, yet, familiar problem going on in Boston. 

The Celtics have lost three of four and have now lost all ground to the Heat. The concern, in regards to the losses, is that the one seed in the Eastern Conference is gradually slipping out of Boston's grasp. 

If the Celtics' core players can make it to the playoffs in one piece, they will be fine. However, home court becomes a bigger advantage than usual with Miami, Orlando, and Chicago all containing the type of potential to make Celtics fans uneasy. For an aging team, a slightly easier road could wind up being vital (not that such a thing has proven relevant in recent years). 

The Celtics are not only in danger of being one and a half games back after Sunday's contest against the Heat, but the Bulls are now only two games back in the conference. Falling to the three seed is not out of the question, particularly with the utter depletion Boston is currently dealing with. 

Nine players played minutes for the Celtics on Thursday against the Lakers—seven if you don't count the five combined minutes contributed by Nate Robinson and Avery Bradley. Yes, Avery Bradley. 

Shaquille O'Neal, Jermaine O'Neal, Nate Robinson, Semih Erden, Marquis Daniels and Delonte West make up the current core of injured Celtics players. Daniels, Erden and most recently, Robinson have been the last three to fall.

Fortunately, West is expected back after the All-Star break, which is huge considering the Celtics only have Von Wafer as a backup SG with Daniels and Robinson out. Wafer is beginning to prove that he can be relied upon for some minutes, putting up eight points after logging 20 minutes against the Lakers. 

West will anchor a depleted bench and hopefully, can help keep the Celtics in the win column more often than not. At full health, he is more reliable and instinctive than Robinson while carrying a better shot. 

Not only did Kendrick Perkins come back early but he is being forced to log the most time in his career with the rest of the Celtics' centers sidelined (not exactly ideal coming off an eight-month injury). More time for Perkins also means more fouls, with Shaq not there to take some of the blows. When Perkins has to take a seat, Glen Davis struggles to compensate for his size against the league's bigger players. 

With a lot of day-to-day injuries, the Celtics could have some reasonable depth back sometime soon, and they need it. Hopefully, Shaq and Robinson will be available for Sunday's contest against the Heat. The game will carry more weight than usual, determining who is atop the East heading into the last week before the All-Star break.  

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