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.

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Lakers at the Bottom of the Barrel Early: Nash Gets Hurt as L-A is 0-2

ImageWell, the Celtics certainly didn’t get off to the start we had all hoped for, but on a brighter note our arch nemesis, the Los Angeles Lakers, are on the same page and find themselves at the bottom of the Pacific division standings. To make matters worse for L-A, one of the marquee players they brought in during the off-season, point guard Steve Nash, was injured in their recent loss to the Portland Trailblazers.

The 38-year-old Nash collided with Portland Trailblazers rookie point guard Damian ImageLillard in the 2nd quarter of Wednesday nights 116 to 106 loss. Nash suffered a lower left leg contusion and was only able to play one series of the second half before being sent to the sidelines for the rest of the night.

 

Nash was quoted on ESPN.com saying “I guess I wouldn’t want to say right now, but I’m definitely hopeful” on whether he’ll be game ready for this Fridays contest against the Los Angeles Clippers.

While Laker Nation should by no means hit the panic button this early in the season, it certainly brings up two main question to consider.

1. Can the Lakers keep everybody (especially Nash) healthy? Of the Lakers starting five, only Dwight Howard (26-years-old) is under the age of 30. Kobe Bryant (34), Metta World Peace (32), and Pau Gasol (32) are all above 30 years-of-age (including the aforementioned Nash, 38). Age could play a key role in whether this L-A squad can keep everyone out on the floor and not sidelined with injuries.This will also factor in to how many wins and losses the team will produce and whether or not a post-season will be in the picture.

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2. Can this Lakers offense, filled with so many different personalities, actually co-exist? When you put this year’s Los Angeles Lakers team under a sports micro-scope, you’ll see a breeding ground for one of two contagious diseases. The first is success. This Lakers squad is no doubt loaded with talent. If they can build a solid team chemistry, they could find themselves edging out the likes of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs for a trip to the NBA Finals when it’s all said and done.

However, the second is more deadly and could lead to the Lakers demise…failure. Can Steve Nash facilitate the rock and Kobe still get his shine? Will Dwight Howard be too big of a distraction on and off the court? Will Metta World Peace stay sane long enough to actually help the team this season? Is Pau Gasol still happy to be playing in the purple and gold after numerous trade talks swarmed his psyche last year?

Alright so that was obviously more than two questions, but the 2012-2013 Lakers have a lot of question marks and sadly there is no clear answer to any of them just yet. We will simply have to wait, watch and wonder what will become of L-A this season. Until then, let us rejoice in their recent shortcomings. The C’s might be 0-1, but it beats 0-2 and are guys are healthy.