Talk about being a step slow and looking long in the tooth, the Celtics tonight were horrendous. ESPN announcer Doris Burke mentioned the Celtics looking a step slow on more than one occasion. She also talked about the famous expression "the mind saying to do something but the body not being able to do it." You can sum up this frustrating and overly-unfulfilling season with those statements.
It's not so much that I predicted the Celtics to win 70 games (I thought it was definitely possible) and the championship (I did think they'd win that too). It's not even trying to grapple with how it's possible guys like Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace, Paul Pierce, and to a lesser extent Ray Allen, have all dropped so dramatically in their production over the course of one summer. It's about pride. More specifically, Celtics pride, or the lack thereof.
There's no showing of it at all. Trailing by 13 points midway through the 4th quarter to Elvin Hayes, a young Hakeem Olajuwon and Dominique Wilkins would be understandable. But Andray Blatche (23 and 9), JaValle McGee (13 points and 5 blocks), and Al Thornton (24 and 11) are not those aforementioned 3 guys. You could've fooled me with that performance tonight.
Instead of sugar-coating their pathetic win, I feel it needs to be explained just what's wrong with this team:
They have no athletic big men. That's right folks, amongst Garnett and Wallace (past their primes) and Perkins and Davis (physical players, not leapers) there's not one guy that can defend a guy who has some semblance of athleticism. That wasn't Elvin Hayes out there tonight (it was Andray Blatche) but I couldn't tell the difference.
The Celtics Big 3 have regressed and the younger 2 (Rajon Rondo and Kendrick "1 for 2" Perkins) don't have the skillset to compensate. Can you expect Rondo to make a big shot down the stretch? With his hesitation offensively? I think not. Pierce doesn't have the lift, KG doesn't have the mobility (nor did he ever have much of a post game) and Ray's been far too inconsistent. Call me crazy but I feel like I have more confidence when Marquis has the ball in his hands that a basket will follow than any of the Big 3.
They turn the ball over too much, shoot too poorly from the free throw line and are a terrible rebounding team. They got away with turning the ball over too much the year they won the title. But their defense isn't nearly as formidable as it was 2 seasons ago, and they can't hang their hats on it expecting to come up with the big stops when needed. Not when Blatche and Thornton look like Hayes and Dominique.
The 3 game winning streak was totally overrated. The needed a come from behind win to narrowly beat Detroit and basically played slightly better than Philadelphia. They were impressive in the Charlotte game but the Pistons and 76ers suck. And none of this should allow people to forget the loss to the Nets. In my 23 years as a Celtics fan, I don't think I've been quite so humiliated by a performance as that one. The Nets in my opinion are without question the worst team in NBA history (regardless if they break the record or not) since no team in today's parity-laden, overexpanded league should ever be so lousy.
I've said it over the past 2 months and I'll say it again: This team will not win a championship unless Kevin Garnett returns to 100% of his form from 2008 or Rajon Rondo can become Isiah Thomas from 1988-1990 on the offensive end. This lackluster win further proves that.
Lastly, they won this game, but please don't let the "hype" of this 4 game winning streak convince you otherwise. The Celtics were the first team to 20 wins this season and are the tenth team to win 40 games. Need I say more?