Evaluating the Celtics at the All-Star break
Looking back, looking ahead with Celtics
WHAT THEY HAVE DONE
1. They have maintained their mastery of the Eastern Conference, ending the first half with the best record despite myriad injuries and the dominance of the Miami Heat.
2. The Big Three have remained healthy. Save a nine-game absence by Kevin Garnett with a strained calf, the Celtics’ veteran starters have remained free of injury drama and appear primed for a strong second half.
3. The Celtics have reemerged as one of the best home teams in the NBA. A ghastly 24-17 home record last season was embarrassing, but Boston has won 25 of 30 home games and avoided those surprising TD Garden losses that cost the Celtics a chance at home-court advantage last postseason.
4. Establish chemistry. There are no longer concerns about how Shaquille O’Neal would mix into the locker room. He’s embraced the Celtics’ team concept so far. Now he needs to get healthy and contribute.
WHAT THEY NEED TO DO
1. Create chemistry with the bench. The projected bench of Delonte West, Glen Davis, Nate Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Jermaine O’Neal has played no time together. With Marquis Daniels likely out for the season, the Celtics need to get those players on the court together.
2. Rest for the veterans. The last thing coach Doc Rivers wants is to burn out his roster trying to claim the No. 1 seed. A tired Celtics team will be hard pressed to beat a healthy and fresh Miami team, so playing time needs to decrease down the stretch.
3. Win the winnable games. There are a lot of low- to mid-tier teams on the schedule. The Celtics have to take care of them, even in the second game of back-to-backs.
4. Get Rajon Rondo a capable backup. Robinson has not proven to be a reliable backup at the point, so it’s up to West to spell Rondo and show the Celtics can thrive when Rondo gets a break.