The Celts' record over the last 10 games (4W/6L) has been especially
alarming, because only 3 of those teams are above .500, and of those 3,
only the New Orleans Hornets are substantially(11) over that 'benchmark'.
When looking at the schedule, 2-3 weeks ago, any Celtics fan (and team
official) rightfully thought, that this could be the time to gain some ground on the other East contenders. It hasn't been that way.
Yes, we're in that end-of-the-year part of the schedule that many an NBA veteran(play-off bound or not) really dislikes. Coaches have to find
creative ways to keep players focused and nagging injuries exacerbate
the motivation problem.
So maybe,just maybe, the Celts will be able to 'turn it on' those last two
weeks of the regular season, when they face the likes of the Spurs,Bulls,
Heat and Hawks. Maybe, the motivation will be there again. Or is it......
When Danny Ainge pulled off the deals to bring Ray Allen and K.G. to
team up with Paul Pierce and make the Celts contenders(and Champions their first year together) we all applauded the moves he made. We maybe thought....
Danny has a little 'Red' in him.
'Celtic Nation' realized the obvious....the team was trading away young,
promising players for two veteran NBA superstars, to help Pierce bring home the Trophy.....ASAP. After the deal was done to create the Big Three,
everyone (including NBA fans not wearing t-shirts with green shamrocks) knew
that Boston had a 'window of opportunity' to get it done. To their credit,
they were able to accomplish that, the very first year they were together.
It was the immediate gratification thing with....Championship Now......but
we all knew that this was a team that would need the infusion of good young players,both as supporting cast members for the present team(s) and for
(hopefully) building blocks of future Celtic teams(after members of the Big Three retired).
In the Championship Year of '08, the Celts had a great supporting cast of
players named Posey,House,Davis,T.Allen and Powe and even a couple of older vets like P.J. Brown and Sam Cassell making solid contributions.
Unfortunately, the current playoff-bound Celtic team does not have that
kind of help off the bench(with the exception of Big Baby Davis and recently
acquired Jeff Green). Even more importantly, the team is older. The Big
Three,of course, is older, but here is where my complaint lies.
When you (that is...Danny Ainge) know that three of your core players
(or more accurately...3 superstars) will retire fairly soon,why would you
take on even older players (i.e. the O'Neals) when constructing your team?
Even if Shaq (forget Jermaine) does a miraculous impersonation of his much younger self and somehow helps to lead the Celts to the Promised Land
one last time(Is it likely?)......Where is this team in two years?
Currently,the only young players on this team who I can think of having
long-term are....Rajon Rondo,Glen Davis,and Jeff Green(and maybe, Avery Bradley...if Doc would just give the kid some playing time).
I really don't want to bash Danny at all. I just don't understand why he
is so enamored with older players for his bench. Before the season began, I was not in favor of adding Shaq to this team. Too much uncertainty with his
physical condition and too much circus. Again,instead of rent-a-player
(especially older player(s) prone to injuries like both O'Neals),why not
younger players who could help the team now and in the future?
While the Celts felt they had to move Perk(contract), they have now gotten
even 'softer', than they were before the trade. Perk never had gaudy stats,but he was a physical presence and could bang and play some D. Thankfully,the Celts were able to get a first-rounder(and Green) in their dealings. Hopefully,they will draft wisely when the time comes.
And hopefully,the Big Three have just enough left in the tank for one
more run. If they do......enjoy it, because the Celts are getting very close
to being a very different team. That Window Of Opportunity is just barely
open,for now. Brad Dawson