All through the season I have said that I felt that the biggest key to the Celtics getting #18 would be health. In the beginning I was focusing mainly on the Big 3 as older players break down more easily and recover slower. Late in the season I started to focus on Kendrick Perkins who's game had regressed from the all-star quality of earlier in the year. A day or so later we found out that Perk was going through tendinitis and the Celtics sat him a couple games. Since that time Perk's health has been a great concern to me. As you can hopefully tell by now, Perk's defense is invaluable versus Dwight Howard and we'll need him presumably against the Lakers bigs.
This week two more injuries have popped up and their huge. The players might be playing through them, but that's what you do at this time. Tony Allen is playing through an ankle injury that kept him out earlier in the year for 20 games. The C's don't have a month plus to rest him again, so he plays on. Unfortunately the Tony Allen that we've seen the past two games is a shell of the TA we have grown accustomed to. After a poor game 3 the news of his ankle problems came out. Tony had 2 points, 1 rebound and 4 fouls last night. Without his athleticism, his defense is suffering, he can't crash the offensive glass, and his offense is diminished.
With a team that counts on 4 vets in their 8 man rotation, it is imperative to get athleticism and hustle from the younger 4 (Rondo, Perk, Davis, TA). Unfortunately Perkins is not an athletic player (and is limited even more right now do to injuries). Davis has been giving his all, but despite the fact that he moves so well for such a large man, he is not athletic. We only have TA and Rondo really. In addition to Tony's ankle problem, Rondo left the game yesterday prior to halftime to get treated for back spasms. Despite a decent line of 9 points, 8 assists, 3 steals and 3 rebounds, Rondo was not his dominant self last night.
To win championships you need dominant players, not just very good players. We can't have Rondo only playing very good ball at this point. He's been arguably the best player in the NBA through these playoffs and that's the #1 reason why the Celtics are so close to the Finals. After the game Rondo said, "I'm fine," when asked about his back. Did you expect anything else? Rondo is a stone cold poker player. He doesn't give tells. Maybe he is fine and will bounce back with a huge game 5 tomorrow, but if you're a Celtics fan and your best player is having back issues it should not be glossed over. It's a big deal (think early 90's Celtics). With Guide to Career Education you can find a lucrative career in a franichse with a Merchandizing Degree.
I fear that the Tony Allen we will get for the remainder of the playoffs will be limited. Might be time to dust off Marquis Daniels. He has playoff experience and I believe is more ready for prime time than Nate Robinson. Micheal Finley is simply too old and too limited. The biggest thing I will be looking for in Game 5 is a healthy Rondo. If he's playing like the playoff superstar we've grown accustomed to then #18 is in sight, but if he's only good and the spasms continue to hinder him, then things could get bleak quick.