Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Celtics/Danny Ainge Revised part I

I would like to revisit the topic that I chose to discuss when I kicked off my sports blogging career back in January.  That would be the state of the Boston Celtics; their competitive status within the league this season, health concerns and most importantly the trade rumors swirling around their roster, often times being exacerbated via public statements that could have been construed as threats by their General Manager Danny Ainge. 

As the playoffs have finally arrived, the Celtics are in fairly good position, better than most thought they would be, including me.  They were able to finish with the best record in the Atlantic division of the Eastern Conference, ensuring that they would at worst be the #4 seed in the playoff bracket.  This was a crucial result, being that based strictly on the standings in the East, Boston would have likely ended up in the 6th or 7th spot, and the 7th spot would have meant facing the Heat in the first round, which no opponent wants to have to do.

On the topic of roster changes, the NBA trade deadline came and went without any moves being made by the Celtics.  It seems to me that Mr. Ainge realized the folly of his ways at the previous season’s trade deadline, the decision that was the reason for my initial two part entry stating my beef with the man.  After gutting the NBA leading, championship caliber Celtics squad of the 2010-2011 season, I credit Danny for at least not making a similar mistake two years in a row.  Even after all the trade rumors involving Rondo and Paul Pierce most notably, and after the subsequent public statements by Ainge saying that no player was safe from trade and he would not hesitate to move any player, including lifetime Celtic Pierce, if he felt like it. 

So instead of listening to his instincts, Ainge decided to trust coach Doc Rivers and the four star players that he has, all of which will be Hall of Famers (I’m taking a liberty with declaring Rondo a HOFer already, but he will be), that they could make one last deep playoff run.  The Celtics played fantastic basketball in the 2nd half of this NBA season and have positioned themselves well in the playoff scenario as I alluded to above.  Unfortunately, Ray Allen has not been immune to the injury bug that has plagued so many teams in this condensed, post-lockout NBA season, and that is going to make things a lot tougher on the Celts, as their bench is not very deep and Allen’s is not only one of the best pure shooters in the history of basketball, he is also one of the most clutch performers of his time.  He is questionable if he will play in his first game against the Hawks on Sunday night, but at least he has not been shut down for the entirety of the playoffs and will hopefully be back soon to contribute.

The Atlanta Hawks are an immensely talented team that frequently underachieves, but being that they are a team that plays very well at home and often poorly on the road, it is unfortunate that in the finals days of the regular season Atlanta secured home court advantage for their upcoming series. Nevertheless, not unlike the Knicks, the Hawks in my view lack the intangibles it takes to win and win big in the post-season, despite the plethora of talent on their roster.  So I’m not too worried, part II of this revision will come after game 1.

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