After each dive on the floor, every charge taken, and any number of "Tommy Points," it looks as if the Boston Celtics are the team to beat in the NBA.
At 13-2, the Celtics are once again led by their trio of future Hall of Famers. Paul Pierce's overall game is getting better with age, and his 19.0 points per game lead a balanced scoring attack. Kevin Garnett's minutes are down, in more of an attempt to keep him fresh, but his 8.7 rebounds per game and countless number of big defensive stops lead the team. 16.9 points per game may seem a little off for Ray Allen, but his mere presence and long-distance capability keep defenses honest.
Coach Doc Rivers was a solid professional and a floor general in his NBA career, and he is happy to have Rajon Rondo leading the current Celtics team. Rondo's electric overall game, led by his energy and quickness, spark Boston each time out on the floor. With his team high 6.5 assists and 2.2 steals, Rondo is looking like a future All-Star.
Every successful team needs a "meat and potatoes" type of player, and Kendrick Perkins fits that category to round out the starting five. The rugged 6'10", 280-lb. center is second on the team in rebounds at 7.3 per game. It is his role on the defensive end, with a team-leading 1.9 blocks per game, that has solidified Perkins' role as a defensive stopper.
The bench has been led by 6'5" swingman Tony Allen. Even though at times he seems to force shots on the offensive side of the ball, Allen has been a major spark for the C's. Leon Powe would be a competent starter at power forward for a number of teams if given the chance. Eddie House has been shooting better from long distance as of late and has done a serviceable job as a backup point guard to Rondo.
Overall, it still looks as if the Celtics will need a proven NBA backup point guard to beat their Western Conference foes. With Sam Cassell decked out in more suits than jerseys these days, maybe the answer in the long haul.
Team basketball is the theme for the Celtics this season. Each night, a different player leads the team and puts them on his back. In the foreseeable future, I do see Boston being the number-one seed from the Eastern Conference and making it back to the NBA Finals.
Could they be facing a similar opponent in the L.A. Lakers? That's my guess.