It’s been nearly a week—almost every sports media outlet that covers the NBA has been discussing the surprising trade that sent fan-favorite Kendrick Perkins and point guard Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green & Nenad Krstic.
For the last few seasons since the C’s won the title in 2008, almost everyone in Celtics Nation have echoed the same sentiment: When healthy, this was the best starting five in the league.
The reason? It was Ubuntu—the ultimate team philosophy. It was a family. The team’s chemistry was second to none other.
While the team will most certainly band together as they gear up for the stretch run, the loss of Perk was more than just the loss of defensive stopper in the middle; it was like losing a family member—just ask Kevin Garnett.
Now reliant on a rotation in the middle of Troy Murphy, Nenad Krstic and the two oft-injured O’Neals, size continues to be a critical problem that stares the team directly in the face.
But Danny Ainge doesn’t seem to be worried about the Lakers or any other Western Conference team for that matter. He sees the route to an 18th banner going directly through Miami—and it’s tough to blame him.
Enter Jeff Green, who the team actually drafted fifth overall before sending him to Seattle in the Ray Allen deal.
Will the Celtics win the title?
While his contributions may be marginal in the box score, his value far exceeds that to this team. Green finally gives the C’s a legitimate backup small forward to take some of the pressure off of Captain Paul Pierce. Additionally, Green’s 6'9" frame and positional versatility allows the Celtics to go small when they want to run, which they’ll have to do a lot of if they hope to advance past Miami in a seven-game set.
The swingman will improve as his time with the team grows, but thus far Green looks pretty good in Boston. While he’ll need to improve his defense to fit the Celtics’ standards, Green’s presence on the court and ability to produce on the offensive end can also provide valuable relief to both Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett as well.
The other piece of the deal, Nenad Krstic, is not your traditional big man. He’s not a banger that will go toe-toe in the paint, but his ability to hit the perimeter shot should open up the lane for Rajon Rondo to penetrate and run the team’s offense. The veteran center is not a big threat on the glass, but once a healthy Shaquille O’Neal returns to the starting five, that won’t be Krstic’s role.
Troy Murphy has also been added to the picture. Bought out from the Golden State Warriors just prior to the deadline, Murphy chose Boston over Miami today.
With Shaq’s return not for another couple of weeks, Murphy will get the opportunity to get significant burn after only appearing in 18 games (16 minutes per game) this season. He is a good rebounder (five seasons of averaging 10+ rebounds per game) and he could hit a three or two per contest.
Doc Rivers has some new toys.
These last 24 games will be a puzzle of sorts as Doc will attempt to see what pieces fit together. Trying different lineups, resting players when possible and easing players back from injuries will be important down the stretch.
However, with just two games separating the C’s, Heat and Bulls, there's only one goal.
As Charlie Sheen would say: It's all about winning.