What’s A Doc To Do?

My father-in-law called Sunday morning and asked what is the story on the Celtics. Now he’s from the Boston area and roots for the Patroits, Celts, Sox, and Bruins, pretty much in that order. Since he doesn’t have League Pass, he’s limited to the El Paso paper, ESPN, and the nationally televised games. With incomplete information himself and knowing that I follow the Celtics closely he hoped I might be able to shed some light on what seemed to be an indecipherable puzzle. I told him that anyone who claimed to know what’s going on with the Celtics is lying.

I think this includes Doc, Danny, and the Celtics themselves. I suspect that the problem encompasses some mad scientist’s brew of age, the trade, changes due to the trade, the new (and seemingly ever-changing) cast of characters, and motivation. Yet primarily I place the responsibility directly on the
backs of the Big Four. This team has played well, and poorly, with any of the six starting centers this season. Regardless of whether it was Perk, Shaq, JO, Semih, Krstic, or Big Baby manning the middle, the four mainstays have soared and plummeted with seemingly little rationale for their collective performance. The one constant seems to be that for few, perhaps no, games this year have all four been on their A game. Not only have they been wildly inconsistent as a group but they have been up and down individually. When they are all “on,” the Celtics are very, very good. When one is off, they struggle. When two or more are off, they can look downright sad.

Pierce and Allen are having very good years statistically. But neither has been consistently good. Their 50% shooting years have consisted of 8 for 10 nights balanced with 2 for 10 nights. The same could be said for Garnett and Rondo. Some games Kevin corrals every rebound in sight while in others he comes up rather empty. Rondo started the season with unprecedented assist numbers but leveled off and then sank to only one good game out of every three or four. They have also fluctuated wildly in their shooting success. Part of the team’s malaise is that on any given night they have no idea what, or whom, is going to work. Perhaps work is the operative word since their uneven effort has been a major contributing factor in the ups and downs of the season.

Which brings me to the thought that prompted today’s article, if you were Doc, how would you handle tonight’s game (and the final one against New York)? He’s tried working through. He’s tried blending in the new guys, playing them as a unit, tightening the rotation until the end of the bench is all DNP/CD’s. I kind of favor sitting the Big Four tonight and letting them “think” about it (the team, playing what for some of them might be their last season, their own personal commitment, their effort, and their motivation, or lack thereof) and cool their heels and rest their bodies. Bench the Big Four, and the O’Neal’s, and let the other nine carry the flag. Maybe the second unit can shoulder the burden and find the passion that seems to be lacking in our veteran stars as we approach the second season. At least they won’t be burdened down by their own press clippings; and perhaps they can show the starters something about the hunger that the stars seem to have lost. Certainly I, as a fan, won’t mind seeing some average talent giving above average effort rather than visa versa.