The Celtics are playing much better than most people thought and their current record is not reflective of the effort that has been displayed. The good news is the Celtics have held their own against three perennial rebuilding teams and one serious contender.
That bad news is they haven’t played the upper echelon teams in the NBA and they are about to start doing so. Before we overload StubHub by trying to sell off all of our tickets, there are some burning questions that need to be answered now that we are 1/20th of the way through the 2013-14 season.
ESPN’s Chris Forsberg asked and answered the following questions this week. Rather than pull my hair out over what is going on with this team, I’ve decided to take a step back and let a professional steer the blog ship for a second. The answers below are my own. To read Forsberg’s entire take, check out his column, which as usual is worth your time.
Can Jeff Green be a consistent presence?
Short Answer: Yes.
Defend That: The chips are stacked against Jeff Green. We’re all rooting for Jeff while simultaneously pounding our fists into our hands like a bully on the playground in a coming of age story.
With Rondo recovering from knee surgery we are dying to put the weight of the franchise on Jeff Green’s shoulders. Even though he is delivering the goods (Monday’s stat line was 22 points and 5 rebounds) it just isn’t enough.
Like with the rest of his Celtic teammates, the first 40 minutes of the game is not the problem; it’s the last 8 minutes that is causing all of the headaches. If Jeff Green’s current production becomes his normal contribution and he can make good on his early season promise of more good nights than bad, then what more can you ask of him? $8.7M a year for 25 a night is pretty good, and on this team it is a BARGAIN.
Do the Celtics need more Jordan Crawford?
Short Answer: Yes.
Defend That: Does anyone think Avery Bradley wants to be playing point guard? No. Avery Bradley is a shooting guard, loves being a shooting guard, and should be our shooting guard. All of this will change when Rondo is back to his starting role, and until then we are all making sacrifices. It literally cannot get any worse right now, so yes- I would love to see Jordan Crawford start the next game at the point and see AB slide over to the 2.
During preseason, the Bradley/Crawford tag team spent a lot of time together on the floor. As we head into a week of matchups that include Utah, Orlando, and Miami, why not give that pairing another shot?
We don’t have to marry this pairing; we’re just going out on one date with it to see if we like it.
Can Stevens nail down a minute distribution?
Short Answer: It’s not necessary right now.
Defend That: Have you seen the look on Gerald Wallace’s face mid-game? No one but Phil Pressey seems happy right now, so I am all for coach Stevens to tinker as he sees fit until he unlocks unlimited lives in this real life version of Contra.
Someone new every night is chipping in and keeping these games competitive. On Monday, it was Jared Sullinger who put up 16 points and 5 rebounds in 20 minutes on the court. Brandon Bass, before cooling off on Monday, has been the defensive anchor that the coaching staff was hoping he would be. Jeff Green, thus far, is averaging 20 a night. Vitor Faverani is on pace to become the Brazillian Tommy Point Machine.
Unfortunately, the current rotation has left no room for Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, or Kris Humphries, and has not been very kind to Gerald Wallace or Courtney Lee; all players who will contribute this season, if not this month.
As of week 2, this team is a work in progress and will remain a work in progress until the trade deadline. We’re going to get there eventually; it is just going to take some time.
When will the team realize it must run?
Short Answer: fingers crossed!
Defend That: They need to. This team is young, fast, and has legs, they just aren’t using them right now. The 2012-13 Celtics had a slew of knee problems even before Rondo blew his out. The 2013-14 Celtics need to pick it up and they know it; Stevens has been urging them to do so since the start of preseason.
The Celtics are struggling in transition, in halfcourt sets, and in late-clock situations. Without a pure point guard to push the pace of the game, the Celtics are having to battle back rather than move forward when it comes to attacking the play, creating their own offense, and making their opponents work to catch up. According to Synergy Sports, the Celtics are currently 30th in pace and 28th in offensive rating.
It’s time to pick it up, team. And I’m talking to Gang Green when I say that. It is so easy to give up on this team right now. The look on Crash’s face in late game situations might tell you different, but I assure you- this team wants to win. It’s only a matter of time before they figure out how and start to even out.
Follow Padraic O’Connor on Twitter @padraic_oconnor
Source: Chris Forsberg; ESPN
Photo Source: Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
Padraic O'Connor 11/05/2013 11:14:00 PM Tweet