The Post Paul Pierce/K-G Era

Picture Courtesy of setevintecinco.blogspot.com

It’s the Summer of 2014…Danny Ainge sits in his comfy office chair smoking a Cuban cigar, attempting to do his best Red Auerbach impression. Papers are scattered on his desk listing the players who need to be cut and the available free agents left on the market to pick up. His phone lines are ringing like crazy, on the other end waits a number of teams looking to trade for Rajon Rondo and draft picks. He just lets them go to voicemail. He puts out his cigar, sinks his head into his hands, and lets out a breathe of concern.

A Few Months Earlier: The Boston Celtics have been knocked out of the NBA Playoffs in the first round yet again. Celtics great Paul Pierce retires from the NBA a few days later at the age of 36. A few weeks before Pierce’s announcement, Kevin Garnett publicly states he is retiring after the C’s season is over. Doc Rivers, who was coerced to coach for Boston for one more season, calls it’s quits a few days after Pierce, and just like that…an era is over.

October 2014: The 2014-2015 regular season is about to get underway for the Boston Celtics, it’s opening night at the TD Garden, but the seats aren’t quite as full as they normally would be, the Celtics are about to be introduced by the PA announcer, but something’s missing. The announcer goes through the starting lineup, but there’s no mention of Pierce or Garnett, and instead of Rivers, someone else is on the sideline going through the game-plan with the team before tip-off.

The referee brings the ball out to the middle of the court, lobs it up for the tip, and without a second thought, the post-Paul Pierce/K-G era has begun.

Picture Courtesy of celticshub.com

The Truth Hurts: The paragraphs above are not something straight out of a science fiction novel, they are harsh realities that will come to light over the next two seasons, maybe even sooner depending on how this year’s off-season goes. The fact is, Pierce, Garnett, and even Doc Rivers will all be gone at some point, between now and the 2014-2015 regular season.

How the Celtics will prepare for this post-Paul Pierce/K-G era has yet to be seen. Replacing the likes of Pierce, Garnett, and Rivers will be nearly impossible from a character standpoint. Pierce has been everything Boston could have ever wanted out of a player since the C’s drafted him back in 1998. Garnett has been a key cog in the Celtics machine since 2008. Rivers has coached the Celtics through the best of times and the worst of times.

Boston can however, draft or add players who will provide the kind of production that Pierce and Garnett have for so many seasons. As for the next bench boss of the Celtics, only time can tell who will fit the bill for Boston.

In the meantime, here’s a look at what the Celtics roster will likely look like in 2014-2015 (minus draft picks, free agent signings, and trades) in comparison to their current roster.

Current Roster (when fully healthy)

C Kevin Garnett, Chris Wilcox, Fab Melo

PF Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, D.J. White, Shavlik Randolph

SF Paul Pierce, Jeff Green

SG Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, Jordan Crawford, Terrance Williams

PG Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jason Terry

2014-2015 Roster (some of the players listed above were removed due to the likelihood of being cut, Terrence Williams, Shavlik Randolph,  or potential retirement, Jason Terry.)

C ?, Fab Melo, Chris Wilcox,

PF Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, D.J. White

SF Jeff Green, ?

SG ?, Courtney Lee, Jordan Crawford,

PG Rajon Rondo (if he hasn’t been traded away), Avery Bradley

(The question marks above resemble open spots on the roster that can be filled by draft picks or free agent acquisitions/trades)

Picture Courtesy of boston.cbslocal.com

As you can see there will certainly be a few holes to plug up by the time the 2014-2015 rolls around. Upon review of that potential depth chart, some might say the Celtics need to prepare for the future right now. However, good things come to those who wait. So, before you decide that selling the farm by trading away either Pierce, Garnett or Rondo right now is a simple solution, consider some of these 2014 free agents:

Point Guards

Kyrie Irving

John Wall

Eric Bledsoe

Kemba Walker

Damian Lillard

Shooting Guards

Dwayne Wade

Jamal Crawford

Thabo Sefolosha

Klay Thompson

MarShon Brooks

Small Forwards

LeBron James

Carmelo Anthony

Paul George

Rudy Gay

Khawi Leonard

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Power Forwards

Zach Randolph

Dirk Nowitzki

Tristan Thompson

Greg Monroe

Kenneth Faried

Centers

Chris Bosh

Demarcus Cousins

Andrew Bogut

Andre Drummond

Now I’m not saying that LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh are all going to take their talents to Beantown, nor am I saying that Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving will leave their respective cities to play for Boston.

Because let’s face it, James, Wade, and Bosh are going to continue to shine in South Beach for at least another five seasons. Furthermore, Anthony will probably lure someone like Irving to play alongside himself and Amare Stoudemire, creating a “Big 3 in the Big Apple”

However, once you eliminate those top tier free agents, what your left with is a list of mid to high level guys who can help the Celtics compete for a championship well after Pierce and Garnett leave.

Final Thoughts: “The Truth” is, sooner than we would all care to admit, two “Big Ticket” names are both inching closer and closer to retirement. In a fantasy world the Celtics would have a roster consisting of Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, Larry Bird, John Havlicek, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Paul Pierce, and a few more Celtics greats every year. This, however, is the real world, and even the greats have to go at some point. A new era of Celtics basketball is on the horizon, one can only hope those running the front office are ready for it.

What should the C’s do? Who should they pursue once Pierce and Garnett are gone? Leave a comment below.

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Celtics Clinch a Playoff Spot

Boston Celtics F Paul Pierce looking for an open man against the Pistons
Picture Courtesy of csnne.com

Seventh Heaven: Following a 98-93 win over the Detroit Pistons Wednesday (April 3rd), the Boston Celtics secured a playoff spot and will likely be the seventh seed in this year’s NBA playoffs.

Despite an up and down month of March in which the C’s went 8-8 (including a six game losing streak, and losing Kevin Garnett for a few weeks), Boston has managed to will their way into the post-season once again.

Playoff Picture: With the NBA playoffs taking shape, here’s a look at what the Eastern Conference playoff seeding would look like if the season ended today (April 4th):

1) Miami Heat vs. 8) Milwaukee Bucks

4) Brooklyn Nets vs. 5) Atlanta Hawks

3) Indiana Pacers vs. 6) Chicago Bulls

2) New York Knicks vs. 7) Boston Celtics

Pierce guarding New York Knicks F Carmelo Anthony at TD Garden
Picture Courtesy of zimbio.com

The C’s would draw the Knicks as shown directly above and would undoubtedly have their work cut out for them. Boston has only played New York a total of three times this season going 1-2 for the season series.

In their win against the Knicks, Paul Pierce posted 23 points with six assists, three rebounds, and one steal, while Kevin Garnett added a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. The C’s held Carmelo Anthony to 20 points (which was solid considering he averages 28 points per game) and caused the Knicks to only shoot 40 percent from the field.

In their two losses to New York, Boston allowed Anthony to score a combined 57 points while letting J.R. Smith drop 32 points coming off the Knicks bench. Granted, in both losses the Celtics had multiple players score in double digit figures, however, the scoring combination of Anthony and Smith proved too much in those two loses.

Celtics C Kevin Garnett fading away agains New York Knicks C Tyson Chandler at TD Garden
Picture Courtesy of celticshub.com

Keys to Playoff Success: Defense will ultimately decide the outcome of Boston’s potential opening round series with the Knicks. If Paul Pierce and company can contain Anthony, who by the way dropped a combined 90 points in his last two games (April 2nd and 3rd against Miami (50) and Atlanta (40)), and hold the Knicks to a low shooting percentage while contesting shots and controlling the boards, the Celtics will have a chance against New York.

If they can’t…it will likely be curtains for the Celtics who will see an early exit if they fail to contain Anthony and the Knicks.

Final Thoughts: In what has been a brutal season for Boston, the Celtics have found a way to overcome injuries and losing streaks to give themselves a chance at a championship. Though it may be a long shot with the Heat, Knicks, and Pacers all looking like NBA Finals champions, the Celtics are in it to win it like everybody else. And when your Boston, you’re never counted out. How do you feel the C’s will fair in the playoffs? Leave a comment below.

Beating the Odds: C’s Avoid Anticipated Collapse

Celtics Competing:  I’ll admit I was one of the many who threw their hands up and said, “What are we going to do now?” when I heard Rajon Rondo was out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Well, since then the Celtics have responded to everyone’s questions the old fashioned way…by simply winning.

The Celtics have won eight of their last nine games with impressive victories over the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, and Chicago Bulls . More importantly, and surprisingly, the C’s have done so without the likes of Rondo, Jared Sullinger, and more recently Leandro Barbosa (all out for the remainder of the season due to injury).

Winning Ways: With the loss of Rondo and Co., Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jeff Green have led the team on the floor along with assistance from Jason Terry. Here are their numbers for the month of February:

Pierce: 17.1 PPG with 8.9 RPG and 7.3 APG

Garnett: 16.6 PPG with 10.3 RPG and 1.4 SPG

Green: 14.4 PPG with 4 RPG and 1.7 BPG

Terry: 13.1 PPG with 3.7 APG

Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Bass have also contributed, each averaging 8 PPG.

The Celtics have used a no “pure point guard” philosophy in their 8-1 stretch without Rondo, and so far it has worked well.

Playoff Probability: Although Boston is finding ways to win without a true point guard, they will have to add depth to their roster if they want to have a sure shot at the post-season. According to ESPNBoston’ Chris Forsberg, Coach Doc Rivers recently released his “shopping list” of what he felt the team needed to compete down the stretch:

“Well, I would say a ball-handling guard. It’s no longer a point guard, it’s just a guard. A guard that, if I had my perfect guard for this group right now, it would be a guard that can play multiple positions, that can shoot, and has some toughness. Then we need a big. You’re not going to find a center, so a 4. Obviously a 5 would be great, but a 4 that can stretch the floor, or a 4 that can rebound — just a great rebounding 4 that has skill. That’s the list.”

We’ll have to wait and see what kind of deals Doc and Danny Ainge can whip up in the weeks to come. As of today (February 15th) the Celtics are 28-24 overall and hold the seventh playoff spot/seed of the available eight in the Eastern Conference. Moreover, if the season ended today the C’s would make the playoffs. Of course, the season still has about 30 games to go and as we all know with any sport “anything can happen”.

Nevertheless, I whole heartedly believe Boston can continue their winning ways and place themselves somewhere between a fifth to seventh seed at seasons end. Honestly, at the rate the C’s are playing, they could even lobby for a fourth seed. We’ll just have to watch and see what happens.

Final Thoughts: With roughly 30 games left and only 10 healthy players on a 13 man roster, the C’s have their work cut out for them as they head down the final stretch. Will the Celtics make the post-season? If so, what playoff seed will they earn? Leave a comment below.

NHL= No Hope Left

Meaningless Meeting: It was more of the same this week, as the NHL and NHLPA failed once again to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement. The two sides did not meet with one another, but rather met separately with federal mediators. Despite discussions lasting a total of six hours, no progress was made and no future talks are planned for now, according to sources.

At this point, the only thing that is getting accomplished is the cancellation of regular season games. All games through December 30th have been nixed. That’s almost half of the season gone (roughly 43 percent according to ESPN Stats).

Final Thoughts: Unless something can be done, and soon, I don’t foresee this lockout ending. With nearly half the season wiped out, and neither side budging (with federal mediators help mind you), I fear this season is all but lost. My advice to Boston fans: Watch pre-recorded Bruins games from last season, focus on the Celtics, and start a calendar countdown to opening day at Fenway (116 days by the way), because hockey isn’t being played anytime soon at the Garden.

Celtics Cap Mavericks in Double OT

Boston Beats Dallas: The Boston Celtics came away with a victory against the Dallas Mavericks last night in nail-biting double overtime fashion. The C’s beat the Mavs 117-115 at the Garden, thanks in part to a pair of Courtney Lee free throws in the game’s final seconds.

Lee’s made free-throws sealed the deal for Boston. Had Lee missed both of them, Dallas guard OJ Mayo’s 24 foot 3-pointer at the buzzer would have tied the game and forced a 3rd OT. Instead Mayo’s heroics were too little too late and behind Paul Pierce’s 34 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals the Celtics managed to sweat out a win.

Rajon Rondo also turned in a top performance for Boston with a double-double of 16 points and 15 assists. Rondo was a rebound shy of pulling off a triple double with 9 rebounds in the game.

Dallas’ top performers: OJ Mayo led the Mavericks in scoring with 24 points to go along with 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Shawn Marion also performed well with 16 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 blocks.

Fun Facts From the Game:With a score in the games first overtime, C’s forward Paul Pierce surpassed 23,000 points for his career. Pierce becomes only the 25th player in NBA history to reach 23,000 points.

Also, six Celtics players scored in double figures in this one. Pierce 34pts, Rondo 16pts, Kevin Garnett 16pts, Jeff Green 15pts, Jason Terry 10pts, and Chris Wilcox 10pts.

Back to Back Wins for Boston:With the win over Dallas, the Celtics are now the winners of two straight games. Boston will look to build off this win, and improve on their 12 and 9 overall record, as they hit the road to face Jeremy Lin, James Harden, and the Houston Rockets this Friday at 8pm from the Toyota Center.

Rondo Throws Down

At first glance, Rondo’s scuffle with Kris Humphies ends up looking pretty bad for the Celts, who will very likely have to play a few games without their star point guard. On the other hand, at least the team showed some fight. I was at the game last night and that was the loudest I’ve heard the garden in a long time. Granted no one likes Kris Humprhies and he could be one of the most awkward basketball players of all time, I’m alright with Rondo’s move here. It sucks losing him, but I can only look at the bright side of this and hope that when Rondo does return, it will spark some life into the seemingly stagnant, 8-7 Celtics.

The Ugly Faces of Joakim Noah

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KG Gives Ray the Cold Shoulder

KG’s reaction to Ray Allen’s attempt at making peace was easily the best part of last night’s game. Would of been great to get win, but the fact that KG stuck it to Ray like this is just great. I wish Doc Rivers did the same. As far as I’m concerned, whatever positive memories I had of Ray Allen as a Celtic died when I saw him wearing a Heat Championship warmup during pregame.

The Ugly Faces of Lebron James

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Throwback Thursday – Celtics 2008

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