Random Thoughts as We Wait for the Heat

The Celtics have to put that Lakers loss behind them as an even bigger game looms in front of them.  With their win last night, the Heat are now in first place in the East.  If the Celtics lose on Sunday, then the Heat will have a 1.5 game lead on the Celtics.  I don't know about you, but I don't look forward to the All Star weekend listening to every single announcer slobbering over the "First place Heat."   The Celtics are still very short handed although maybe they will get a little boost if Nate and Delonte can play.

I still say that getting Delonte back is going to be huge.  He gives the second unit an identity.  That second unit hasn't really had a playmaker without him.  Yes, Nate can play the point, as can Avery.  But Nate would rather shoot and Avery just doesn't have enough experience yet.  Delonte gives them a real playmaker with some size who can also shoot, drive and defend.  Doc is saying that he may come back vs the Heat or maybe vs the Nets just to give him a little run before the All Star break.   I just hope he doesn't risk further injury by coming back too early.   I believe he is going to be a key to winning the title this season.

The Celtics need to beat the Heat on Sunday if for nothing more than my mental health.  Like I said, I don't know how much slobbering over them I can handle over All Star weekend.   The Heat are weak in the middle and so I think we can win with Shaq and JO still being out.  Semih would be a help but we can still win without him too.  But having Nate and maybe Delonte back will be big. 

As JR said in his article below, it seems that LeBron is still a bit touchy about the rumors about Delonte and his mom.  At one point in last night's game, a heckler yelled this at LeBron:
“Is your mom going to Boston for Valentine’s Day?”
Apparently this got under LeBron's skin as he turned to look the fan in the eye and made this retort:
“I don’t give a [expletive] what you say about me, don’t be disrespectful,” James said. “That’s all I ask.”
Delonte coming back for 5 or 10 minutes for the Heat game may be more strategic on Doc's part than whatever basketball he can give the team.  Seems like LeBron is just a tad bit sensitive about this still.
I still say that the Lakers win over the Celtics really doesn't mean much.  The delusional Lakers fans were saying that the Celtics missing Shaq, Semih, Jermaine, Marquis, Delonte and Nate was balanced by the fact that they didn't have Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff.  First of all, Ratliff can't have much left.   He was used up when he was with the Celtics way back so even if he comes back, he isn't going to give them much.   And so they are saying that Matt Barnes will give them as much as 6 players for the Celtics.  I think not.

The Celtics were getting into foul trouble (even though those same delusional Lakers fans insisted that the Celtics got ALL the calls).  KG, Ray, Paul, Baby, Perk, Rondo, all  knew that they couldn't foul out because there was no one to replace them.  They had to play a little on the cautious side because they were getting called for ticky tack fouls and couldn't afford to foul out.  Also, Pierce was playing with the flu and was a step slow most of the night.  So, the Lakers got their big win over a depleted Celtics team. The Celtics size was all on the injured list and they need that size against the Lakers.  I have no doubt that when and if they meet again, the Celtics will have their centers healthy and they will have a back up PG and they will have a back up SF and they proved that when they are even semi-healthy they can handle the Flakers with no problems.

There has been a lot of talk about Perk turning down the offer the Celtics made to him.   The Herald reported that the offer that Perk turned down was 4 years and $30 million.  But, after analyzing the CBA and doing some fact checking various reports came out that the most they could offer under the current CBA was probably closer to 4 years and $23 million.   Also, that offer was made before Perk came back and there were a lot of questions whether he'd play this season or whether he would be effective if he did play.  Those questions have been answered as Perk came back way earlier than expected and has been playing very well.

Perk has said that he really wants to stay in Boston.   He told his wife that he can't picture himself playing anywhere else.   He also had this to say about the offer that he turned down:
"That wasn't it. They offered me four years, but it was closer to like $22 million," Perkins said. "You talking four years, $30 million! Shoot, that's different. That's a big difference."
Sounds like Perk will be very willing to accept a reasonable offer from the Celtics.  Perk is one of the top defensive centers in the league. He is young and improving every season.   I have no doubt that there will be several teams targeting him in the offseason and expect him to get offers of $10 million a year or more.   I think Perk will take less to stay in Boston as long as they make him a fair offer.   I really hope Danny knows what he has in this kid.    I just don't see any other centers out there anywhere near as good as Perk that they will get for anything less.  Big men are at a premium and true centers are rare.  The Celtics need to keep the one they have because they won't find anything close for the cost.

Danny is talking about looking for trades and possibly picking up someone who is bought out.  My question about that is who goes?   If Quisy is going to be out the rest of the season does he buy out Quisy's contract to open up a spot?  Does he cut Wafer, whose minutes will be absorbed by Delonte, and hope that Delonte can stay healthy the rest of the season?  Does he cut Luke or Avery and go for it now, forgetting to develop for the future?  Who do you think goes if Danny does bring in another SF to back up Pierce?     It will be interesting to see what he does.

The Celtics need to weather this storm and make it through All Star weekend.  They are going to get their players back healthy and then I don't see a team in the league who can beat them in a 7 game series.  As players come back, Doc can take it easy with them and hopefully keep them healthy as they go into the home stretch and playoffs.  It's going to be an exciting end of the season.

Speaking of exciting, I expect this All Star weekend to be a lot of fun.   Having 4 Celtics and the coaching staff on the East team will make the game fun to watch.  Also,  that shoot out between Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in the 3 Point Shoot Out will be a lot of fun to watch and hopefully we have a Celtic victory.   I'd love to see Rondo in that Skills competition but I guess they felt that the weekend was too green already.   Any way you look at it, things are looking up!