Running a little short on time today - Mrs. TATB and the mini-Finns are on vacation, which means I'm not - so we're going to tweak the Starting Five format for this edition. Today's feeble attempt at basketball insight comes to you in the form of five burning questions regarding your Boston Celtics, followed immediately by our best attempt to answer them. As always, your wisdom is welcome in the comments . . .
1. I suppose Doc Rivers deserves some praise for being a little more disciplined with his bench usage in this series - he finally seems to be grasping the concept of a rotation - but wouldn't Leon Powe's strength and aggressiveness have been a decent counter to Antonio Mickety-Mickety-Mac McDyess last night? I honestly don't get why Powe, who played a Duerod-like 1 minute 17 seconds last night, is buried down there in Scalabrine Land. Even if there's some validity to the insinuations that he hasn't quite mastered the playbook, there's no denying that Powe has been one of the Celtics' most efficient players all season, he plays a physical style that might be the perfect antidote to McDyess's dominance on the offensive boards, and he has a knack for garbage points on a night when the frigid Celtics could have used a few. I'd have given him Big Baby's minutes, and maybe handful of Kendrick Perkins's as well.
2. Have we reached the point where Doc has to consider severely curtailing Ray Allen's playing time? There's no denying it anymore, even for Shuttleworth Apologists such as Donny Marshall and, well, me: Allen has become a legitimate problem, and it's time to start searching for solutions. After his 25-point performance in Game 2, he's been brutal two games in a row, and at this point you have to wonder if his lousy play is now the norm rather than the aberration. Last night, he was 2 of 8 from the field, missed all of his 3-point attempts, and even clanked a pair of free throws when the Celtics were trying to steal the game in the fourth quarter. Right now, Ray Allen can't shoot, and for one of the great perimeter players in the history of the league, that's as bizarre as it is alarming. It's apparent that something needs to change, though I'm honestly not sure what the solution is (and I doubt Doc knows, either). No one wants to see hyperactive Tony Allen on the court in meaningful situations, and I'd just as soon never see Chuckin' Sam Cassell check into a game again. Maybe the best idea is to give Eddie House a little bit more run at two-guard, and see if he can get on one of his hot streaks. Otherwise, sticking it out with Allen might be the best option, as worrisome as that may be.
3. Is Richard Hamilton essentially Reggie Miller without the ridiculous range? Let's see . . . he's scrawny and, um, unconventional looking, he's a sneaky-weasel cheap-shot artist, and he's more or less unstoppable catching and shooting off a screen. I'd say the comparison is valid, though it couldn't hurt to wear prosthetic ears and start a feud with Spike Lee.
4. At this very moment, do you believe the Celtics will - not can, will - win the 2008 NBA Championship? My gut says the Lakers are going to win the thing, but after watching the likes of Lamar Odom sleepwalk through Game 3 against San Antonio, I think I could probably talk myself into believing the Celtics are the favorite. The more I see of this Detroit team, the less I like them, and while only a fool would write off the Spurs - they're the Patriots of the NBA as far as I'm concerned - they just don't seem to have quite enough this year. So at the moment and with great reluctance, I say Lakers over the Celtics in seven. But that's subject to change.
5. As for today's Completely Random Photo Of A Former Pistons Coach Who Unwittingly Did His Part To Help The Celtics (See Item No. 22):
Yup, that's Dickie V., bay-beeee, countless lost hair follicles and many Duke man-crushes ago.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.