Pivot Points: Despite Win Versus Lakers, Celtics Are A Flawed Product

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IFebruary 19, 2010

BOSTON - JANUARY 31:  Paul Pierce #34 and Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics react to an official's call  against Pierce in the closing moments during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the TD Garden on January 31, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim Rogash /Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Even a one point win against a Los Angeles Laker team missing Kobe Bryant couldn't hide the fact the Boston Celtics are teetering on the precipice of their season, and in danger of falling over the side.

Take away a brilliant performance by Ray Allen, in which he resembled the decorated player of his recent past, and the Celtics lose yet another game against an opponent who is considered a contender.

Boston's record now stands at 3-8 versus the Lakers, the Atlanta Hawks, the Orlando Magic, and the Cleveland Cavaliers, all considered contenders for the NBA throne, and all currently better than Boston right now.

In the Eastern Conference, the Celtics have fell to the fourth seed and are being pressed by a surging Toronto Raptors team in their division, and have lost crucial season series to the Magic and Hawks.

To their credit, the Celtics don't seemed as concerned and speak with all the bravado and confidence of their 2008 championship year, but they are in a state of denial because this is not that team.

That team excelled on the defensive end and were a terror on the boards, while relying on the dead-eye accuracy of Allen from the perimeter and the penetration of Paul Pierce in the paint.

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Kevin Garnett, un-hampered by knee injuries, was an explosive presence in the post who instilled energy and passion and Rajon Rondo was a young guard just beginning to understand the depth of his talents.

In a span of two seasons Garnett has been robbed of his former explosiveness due to various injuries and Allen and Pierce have seemed to age before our very eyes as the bedrock of the Celtics' foundation has began to crumble.

Boston is now only capable of playing championship defense in small spurts, Allen lacks the quickness which allowed him to run off screens, and opponents have become aware of Pierce's predictable tendencies.

The aura of the Celtics as a great rebounding team now rests on the knees of tired legs, or it is represented by the players who serve as capable back-ups to the starters, no longer able to shoulder the burden alone.

The one constant through it all has been Rondo, who has grown from a promising young player, to one of the better point guards in the NBA and the sole player capable of backing up the Celtic bravado with his play.

Rondo's value was on display against the Lakers as each time he went to the bench Los Angeles made a run, and upon his return the Celtics settled down and tightened up their play.

In one fell swoop, Rondo has un-ceremoniously supplanted Garnett as Boston's best player and is the one Celtic whose absence would kill any slim chance Boston has of winning a championship.

And even though Rondo is talented, his leadership and ability to stabilize the Celtics on the floor will only carry Boston so far and certainly not to the threshold of former greatness.

It seems the onus will again fall at the weary feet of the big three, but do Garnett, Allen, and Pierce have enough gas in the tank for one final run at history?