Grading the Celtics: The Returning C's
We here at Celtics Life will be taking a realistic look at the Boston Celtics over the next week in a series of articles called “Grading the Celtics”. The team will be divided into three sections; the returning Celtics, the offseason acquisitions, and the new Celtics added after the trade deadline. It is important to realize that the grades will be given based on their total body of work this season. Fandom will not rule and we look forward to your comments and assessments. So let’s begin with those most familiar to us, The Returning C’s.
It’s almost stunning to think that only five Celtics from the 2009-2010 championship run finished as Celtics this season. Those five are Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Glen Davis. Not so stunningly, this 5-man unit was actually one of the best in the NBA with regard to the ever telling plus/minus efficiency rating. With a plus/minus rating of +167 that Celtics five was second only to the Los Angeles Lakers five of Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom, and Gasol who finished at an obscene +259. That stat further proves the theory that the Celtics thrive on cohesion more so than raw talent. Here are the grades for each player.
Rajon Rondo: 10.6 points, 11.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 2.2 steals: Season Grade: A
The Celtics’ floor general had a career best 11.2 assists/game this season good for the second highest average behind Steve Nash’s 11.4 apg. Rondo started the season at a torrid pace with 82 assists in the first five games of the season, breaking the record shared by Magic Johnson and John Stockton. Rondo finished with a career worst 68 games played and suffered through a myriad of injuries that slowed his pace down dramatically in the latter part of the season. He wasn’t the same after the trade that sent his best friend Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City but regained his form once the playoffs started. The gruesome elbow injury he suffered in the playoffs will forever be in the minds of Celtics fans. The heart and determination he showed after that to continue playing is already legendary. Rondo gets an “A” for effort and production.
Ray Allen: 16.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1 steal, and 44% from the 3 point line. Season Grade: A
It could be argued that Allen was the most consistent Celtics player this season. Shooting 49% from the floor and a career best 44% from three, Allen was a joy to watch all season long. He captured the league’s record for all time 3-pointers made on February 10, 2011 and proved to be worth every bit of the 10 million dollars the Celtics re-signed him for in the offseason. In the playoffs he raised his average to 18.9 points with a robust 57% from three.
Paul Pierce: 18.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1 steal, and 49% from the floor: Season Grade: B
The captain delivered another fine season and my rating of him might be a little harsh considering his raw numbers actually improved from a season ago. It just felt like something was missing with Pierce this season and that could just be age catching up to him a bit. When the Celtics offense would go into one of its patented dry spells, Pierce was not able to bail Boston out consistently. Maybe that’s not on his shoulders and many times Doc would say in a post game presser “We’ve got to do a better job of getting Paul involved”. Pierce is the best overall offensive player on the Celtics and undoubtedly should have gotten the ball more. He also should have been more assertive in that role and demanded the orange.
Kevin Garnett: 14.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, and 52% from the floor: Season Grade: B+
Being the heart and soul of a team is a tall order and many a man shrink at the very thought of such responsibility. The difference in effort of this Celtics team with KG is measured by more than just wins and losses. Garnett saw a modest increase in production this season but seemed to be weary when the Celtics needed him most. Despite averaging a double double in the conference semi-finals (14.4pts & 10.9rebs) KG’s production could not match his effort and intensity. That divorce between his effort and production definitely contributed to the C’s early exit. No one will solely blame Garnett (least of all me) but the Celtics obviously needed him to play better.
Glen Davis: 11.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1 steal, and a league leading 46 charges taken. Season Grade: C+
If the season would have ended at the All-Star break, Davis would have earned an “A”. For the first 50 games of the season it seemed like Davis could do very little wrong. He took shots in the flow of the offense, played big minutes in the absences of Garnett, Shaq, and JO, and was the leader of the second unit. Somewhere along the way his success got to him and he stopped playing the right way. Doc didn’t have the best things to say about Baby’s future with the team and he might have played his last game as a Celtic. Davis did not earn any extra credit with his lackluster play in the playoffs and his is a classic case of “it’s not how you start, but how you finish.”
The above mentioned players as a group is battle tested and actually make up the pieces of an actual lineup used on multiple occasions by Rivers. It’s hard to criticize this group especially with the four key Celtics as the anchor but ultimately they all could have done a little more to contribute towards Banner 18. Collectively the returning Celtics earn a B+.