In late 2005 when this blog was born, it was inaugurated with a post titled "Stuck in purgatory" that chronicled the middle-of-the-pack mediocrity of a Celtics team that didn't seem to have a direction – positive or negative.
Well, if that was purgatory, then surely the Celtics have finally descended into the depths of hell.
Like many Celtics fans, I keep telling myself "At least it can't get worse than this." But then I remember how I had said the same thing to myself at least five different times this season, and it did, indeed, get worse. So who's to actually say Tony Allen's blown-out knee is going to be the overall low point? I can't, however, bring myself to contemplate the incomprehensible possibilities that could, indeed, make this season any more depressing.
Tony Allen poses for what should retroactively become the cover photo of the Boston Celtics' 2006-07 media guide. (AP Photo)
There is, of course, the much-talked about "silver lining" of a Celtics team who's 2006-07 misfortune will at least lead to a top pick in the coming NBA draft, hailed by everyone with vocal chords - or at least one working hand to type with – as one of the "deepest drafts ever".
Excuse me if I can't get too excited about that right now.
Not after watching a Celtics' team that was finally playing with a full deck win five-straight and play the best team ball of the past three years. Not after seeing how long it took them to overcome injuries and youth to even be able to play to that level. Not after watching piece-by-piece fall to the floor in every game since, completely negating any of the fruits that the team was finally starting to harvest.
Now, of course I'd be happy to see a game-changing force such as Ohio State's Greg Oden or Texas's Kevin Durant suit up in Green. That would be one of the best consolation prizes the Celts have had in years. But June is much too far away to be focusing on the draft right now, in January, with two-thirds of the season left. And giving up on the season so early can do nothing but damage the mindset of the assets the Celtics still have on their roster, and who will probably compose a good chunk of the team for years to come. These guys still have to at least attempt to play competitive, NBA-level basketball in the games left on the schedule before this miserable monstrosity of a season comes to a close.
So what can be accomplished now?
Well, although the lack of bodies and key members of the team will not allow the Celts to play anything resembling the type of ball that they will eventually try to play when they are back at full strength and competitive again, and the team will likely not win a game in its current injury-riddles incarnation, it is once again a chance to evaluate the players who are left on an individual basis.
Will Gerald Green finally clear the mental hurdles and mature into being a consistent, confident scorer? Will he realize that his defense needs to improve by leaps and bound before he can beat out guys like a healthy Tony Allen next year?
Will Al Jefferson regain the aggressiveness on offense that he displayed in the weeks following the Iverson rumors? Will he remember how to assert himself in the post and not hide under the basket just because he's being double-teamed?
Will Kendrick Perkins remember how to block out effectively and once again dominate the defensive boards? Will the defensive production return?
Will Leon Powe actually finally get the consistent playing time he so clearly deserves? And if he does, will his garbage-time production in the past translate into consistent rotation production?
Will Sebastian Telfair be forced to bring his point-guard skills to the court every game? Will he learn how to run an offense, direct plays, and execute them consistently?
Will Rajon Rondo learn how to put the ball in the basket? Will he regain his defensive confidence that made him a game-changer earlier in the year?
There is a good possibility that a few of the aforementioned players will take the minutes they will now get by default and raise their games to a level that wouldn't have been previously expected. There is also a good possibility that the lack of teammates who bring consistent production will further soil their development as they play with less-than NBA worthy top-of-rotation players.
Who knows what these next weeks and months will bring. But they'll suit up, and we'll find out something, whether we like it or not.