Boston Celtics: Mailbag Questions Answered
I have decided to start a Celtics mailbag where questions can be submitted, and I will answer them in a weekly article. Over the past week, I have received several questions, all of which will be answered here.
The questions involved a variety of topics, including next season, the playoffs, the draft, potential moves the Celtics can make and causes for Boston's slow start.
(If you would like to send in a question for next week's mailbag, just post it on my bulletin board.)
Question No. 1
Matt Casieri: Pat, in your opinion, what is the reason the Celtics have started off so poorly? Are the Big Three getting too old? Was Big Baby a bigger asset to the team than everyone thought?
This is perhaps the biggest question surrounding the Celtics: Why have they started so poorly? They are 5-8 and have yet to beat a good team. But I'm taking a more optimistic approach.
The reason they lost their first two games, against the Heat and Knicks, was because Pierce was out. Their games against the Thunder, Mavs and Thunder were winnable games that they lost in the final minutes.
Really, the only games they played outright terrible in were the two against the Pacers and the one against the Hornets. The game against the Hornets was, without a doubt, because of age. It was the second of a back-to-back, and the Celtics really looked old in this game.
All in all, though, the biggest issue I see with this team is their offense. They have only cracked 100 points three times and have scored in the 80s seven times. The half-court offense seems to be stagnant, and nearly all of their easy baskets must come from passing.
KG, Allen and, now, Pierce have had trouble creating their own offense. The offense truly relies on Rajon Rondo, and too much so. If the offense can pull it together, the Celtics will get back on track.
As for Big Baby, I think we have realized just how replaceable he is. Brandon Bass has proved to be a big upgrade from Davis, whose stats are down from last year, while Bass is playing better than Davis ever did.
Question No. 2
Joe Shmo: Hey Patrick! In your opinion, what do you think is most important in the Celtics' run for No. 18? List the top-five pieces to another title run.
1. Health - The Celtics have been plagued with injuries over the past few years. These injuries have held them back significantly and, arguably, cost them championships in the past three years. With the Celtics older and seemingly weaker than previous seasons, they can't afford for anyone to go down.
2. Rajon Rondo - If he can play at the high level he has shown in a few games (Heat, Knicks and first game against the Wizards) the Celtics are championship contenders. Unfortunately, he has only shown this in a few games, and the others, he has been mediocre at best. But, if he can play to the best of ability, few teams can beat the Celtics.
3. Rebounding - Rebounding has been a major issue for the Celtics this season and has cost them a few games. So far, the defense has been pretty good, but on several occasions, they will play great defense and force a tough shot, but then allow an offensive rebound. If they can clean this up, their chances of winning it all will greatly increase.
4. Bench - The bench has seemed pretty good so far, but only individually. Bass has played well all around, Pietrus and Dooling have hit big shots, Stiemsma has blocked plenty of shots, and Marquis Daniels and Avery Bradley have played good defense. However, as a unit, they have failed to play great.
When five bench players are on the floor, the offense completely shuts down. This cannot happen. The talent is there for the bench to come in and keep or extend leads, and hopefully, with more experience, they will develop more continuity and be able to play better together. If they can do this, they will give the starters more rest and help the Celtics' chances of winning.
5. Paul Pierce - Pierce struggled after returning from injury, and his conditioning seemed to be down. If he can get back into game shape and play like the old Paul Pierce, the Celtics will play better as a team. When the offense goes stagnant, they need a go-to scorer, and Pierce needs to step up again and be that guy.
Question No. 3
J.T. Marie: Patrick, tell the people how the lockout is affecting the Celtics' ability to work as a unit for a full 48 minutes. Or, explain who Keyon Dooling is and where we found him.
Well, the lockout really affected every team, and the Celtics are no exception. With eight new players and very little time to prepare for the season, the Celtics lacked continuity in the beginning of the season. It also didn't help that Pierce was hurt through training camp and the beginning of the season. Every little bit of practice time this team can get will help. Also, the more they play as a team, the more they will be able to work as a unit. The lockout just slowed down this process.
And Keyon Dooling has played for the Clippers, Heat, Magic, Nets and, most recently, the Bucks. We signed him after the lockout ended. He is out with an injured knee right now, but will probably return soon. But, in the time he has played, he has played well; his best game was an 18-point performance against the Heat, where he went 4-of-6 from three. He will be counted on to run the second unit.
Question No. 4
Casey Plunkett: What would Boston do for the future if there are no major trades this season?
This is a tough question—one that most Celtics fans won't like the answer to—because, unfortunately, short of a miracle, there doesn't seem to be any quick fixes for this team in rebuilding.
Most of what they do next season depends on KG and Allen and whether they retire or not. KG will likely retire, and if Allen doesn't, the Celtics should see if he will sign a small, short-term contract.
After that, they should resign Bass, Pietrus, Moore and Dooling. Then, they go to free agency. A lot of free agency depends on what happens this season, so it is hard to place targets on whom the Celtics should sign—especially because none of the big upcoming free agents have shown interest in Boston. Unfortunately, it seems that the rebuilding process will be a few seasons.
Question No. 5
John Zimmerman: Should the Celtics pick up Kwame Brown to replace KG and add more depth to the center position?
Brown will be a free agent next season, assuming the Warriors don't resign him. He would be a good option to add to the Celtics, especially if KG retires. The Celtics should definitely look into him for next season.
Question No. 6
John Zimmerman: Do you think the Celtics need to trade up and get the lottery pick to help rebuild the team?
Honestly, I don't think this would be the best route for the Celtics to go if they want to rebuild the team. They have made some poor draft choices in the past. Also, the draft class this year won't be that great, but even if it was, the Celtics don't have many trade assets to move up in the draft with.
Question No. 7
John Zimmerman: Do you think it's time to fire Doc Rivers and possibly hire someone else like Coach K from Duke?
No, I believe that Doc is the best possible coach for this team and gives them the best chance of winning. He will be around for at least another five years until his contract is up, and that is a very good thing for the Celtics.
Question No. 8
Robert Cayer: Do you think the No. 5 seed is a realistic spot for the Celtics to make the playoffs this year? Or, is it all over, and theyll be lucky to make the playoffs....
It certainly isn't over for this team. I don't doubt in the least that they will make the playoffs this season, and I think you hit the nail on the head with the No. 5 seed. While it is still early to predict, I don't see the Celtics being able to move up in the standings to the Top 4. The No. 5 spot would work well for them anyways because they would be able to avoid the Heat and Bulls until at least the second round.