If games were 2 quarters long the Celtics might be undefeated. They can beat anyone when they are playing full strength, but they are old and lack the hunger to play for 4 quarters in a row. Even though you can't blame a season on injuries, the Celtics have been hit extra hard with the injury bug this year.
Also, you can't underestimate the fact that the Celtics have been there now. By there, I mean that they have felt what it is like to be champions. You can't recreate the hunger and energy of that drive for the first title, especially for a veteran team. They know what it takes to get there, and could just be saving their energy. Thirdly, the rest of the league is better. The top of the league is as good as ever, and every team in the league has at least 1 player that can single handedly win a game. Well except the Nets.
The thing that gives me hope is Rondo. While the Big 3 have regressed with age, they haven't regressed as much as Rondo has gotten better. You could make a legitimate claim that he is the best point guard in the league right now with Chris Paul gone. Along with the emergence of Perk as a legitimate big time center in the East, the Celtics have improved in arguably the two most important positions.
Though Rasheed is quite possibly the most frustrating player to watch in the history of sports, he is better than any bench player on the 2008 team. Or rather has the potential to be. If he ever realizes he's 6'11 watch out. Sadly I'm coming to the realization that he won't. Marquis Daniels is probably a better player than Posey, though Posey had the intangibles. Big Baby is better than Powe talent wise, but again intangibles. Hell, Nate Robinson is better than Eddie House, but can he step up in big games like Eddie did? I guess we will have to see.
A player having "intangibles" is the oldest cliché in the book, but it's so important in basketball. It doesn't matter how talented on paper you are. It's all about chemistry and fitting the right pieces together to build a championship product. I actually think this Celtics team has pretty good chemistry. The problem is they got together 2-3 years too late. I hate the "what if" game, but it's hard not to play it when you think about this team. Oh well, I guess we should all be thankful we get to see a competitive team every night, even if it just for a couple quarters. One final note, Varejao has just cracked my top 3 least favorite players in the league. There is no way that guy is a chill person in real life. Karl Dillinger 2/26/2010 10:10:00 AM Tweet Edit