Boston’s Building Blocks: Back to Square One

It’s been one week…since the blockbuster draft day trade that sent Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph, MarShon Brooks, and a slew of future draft picks was made. While that trade may not technically be official until July 10th, the Boston Celtics are officially back at square one.

Picture Courtesy of backpagelead.com

With Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett gone, all that remains of that 2008 NBA Finals title team is point guard Rajon Rondo. Just like that, an era is over. As the new era of Celtics basketball begins, let’s take a quick look at what is in store for Boston in the 2013-2014 season:

Likely Lineup:

PG: Rajon Rondo

SG: Courtney Lee

SF: Jeff Green

PF: Gerald Wallace

C: Kris Humphries

Sixth Man: Avery Bradley/Brandon Bass

Role Players: Jared Sullinger/MarShon Brooks/Jordan Crawford

Depth Chart:

PG: Rondo/Bradley

SG: Courtney Lee/MarShon Brooks/Jordan Crawford

SF: Jeff Green/Keith Bogans/Kris Joseph

PF: Gerald Wallace/Brandon Bass/Shavlik Randolph/DJ White

C: Kris Humphries/Jared Sullinger/Fab Melo

Head Coach: TBA

(Have to wait and see if draft picks Kelly Olynyk and Colt Iverson survive summer leagues before an accurate roster can truly be drawn up. Depth chart info is courtesy of hoopsworld.com)

Now that you have an idea of how the 2013-2014 roster is going to look, let’s see what the pros and cons are for the Celtics going forward:

Picture Courtesy of kobebeefnba.com

Pros

The Celtics still have Rondo, Green, Lee, Bass, and Bradley. All of whom have played together and won together.

The Celtics have young developing players in the form of Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo, MarShon Brooks, and Kris Joseph.

Boston will have a pair of NBA veterans in Wallace and Bogans to help bring some experience to what will be a younger C’s squad.

Boston will have two first round draft picks in each of the next three NBA drafts, and more draft picks to use as potential trade sweeteners down the road.

Cons

The Celtics will have obvious chemistry issues with new guys like Wallace, Humphries, Joseph, and Brooks coming in.

It’s still not clear if Danny Ainge wants to make Rondo the center piece of the Celtics or trade him away and completely start from scratch.

The Celtics will most likely be looking to dump the higher dollar contracts Wallace (3yrs at $30million), Lee (3yrs at $16.4million), and Bass (2yrs at $13.4million) to make room in the salary cap to sign a few future free agents. (contract figures courtesy of ESPNBoston.com)

The Celtics are going to be without a “true” head coach for at least a season or two.

Final Thoughts: Granted, Boston would appear to be gearing up for a 2007-esque regular season in 2013-2014. However, before you start believing the Celtics future is bleak, remember that the very next season (2008) the C’s made a splash in the free agency and captured a championship. Boston may be back to square one right now, but all it takes is one or two moves from the front office to be back in business.

How do you see the 2013-2014 season playing out in Boston? Is Rondo next on Ainge’s trading block? Leave a comment below.

Advertisements

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.

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.

C’s Top Heat

The Celtics were able to outlast the Miami Heat on Sunday in a double-overtime victory. Boston escaped with a 100-98 victory that few have thought much about. The reason is simple—Rajon Rondo is out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. The starting NBA: Miami Heat at Boston CelticsAll-Star Point Guard was averaging a league leading 11.1 Assists Per Game and recorded back to back Triple-Doubles before hyper-extending his knee on Friday against the Hawks.

The good news is, we beat the 1st place Heat behind KG’s 24 points and 11 rebounds and a Triple-Double by Paul Pierce.  Even the struggling Jason Terry contributed with 13 points while Jeff Green added 11 of his own. Other than that it was a defensive matchup for the most part, until the two overtimes allowed the teams some more time to raise their scoring averages. LeBron James had 34 points and 16 rebounds for the visiting Heat. With this win, the Celtics break a 6 game skid and will host the 16-29 Kings on Wednesday.

Should We Worry?

Overall, the Boston Celtics are 12-11. They are right in the middle, sitting in 15th place overall out of 30 teams. This is not the Celtic’s team that we have come to know and love. Kevin GarnettThe season is just over 1/3rd of the way over, and we are not getting any better. The C’s, who are usually one of the better defensive teams, are allowing 97.9 PPG. This stat isn’t as bad as some, except for one fact:  We aren’t scoring. We are only averaging 97.4 PPG. I’m no math wiz, but I’d say those numbers are going to have to improve if we want any chance to beat the big teams of the East this season (New York, Miami, Atlanta).

We don’t have an easy schedule coming up either. We play the Bulls in Chicago on Tuesday, then come back home to play the Cav’s and Buck’s, both of which have shown that they can put up serious points. Then we take on the Net’s on Christmas, and the Clippers two days after that. Sitting just one game above .500, the C’s need to find a way to get some W’s.

The only consistMiami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Fourent scorer this season has been Captain Paul Pierce, who is averaging 19.7 PPG. Rondo is scoring lower and lower each game, but if he can keep getting 12-15 assists per game, they should be okay. Garnett is shooting around 50% lately, but doesn’t play enough minutes to put up any serious numbers. Meanwhile, Jason Terry has been big off the bench, but still has not found his stroke on the 3-pointers, something we have been lacking since Ray Ray took his talents to South Beach.

C’s Weekend Recap

The Celtics dropped two games this weekend, both against quality teams, and the games imagescat1wg6eweren’t that close. On Friday night, The C’s lost to the Rocket’s 101-89 behind Harden’s 21 points and bench player Greg Smith’s 20 points.  Paul Pierce played 41 minutes and was able to contribute 18 points, 7 rebounds, while everyone else seemed rather flat. Garnett put in 14, Rondo put in 15 and added 13 assists, but we were out played badly.

On Saturday night, they Green and White took on one of the best teams in the league, the San Antonio Spurs. For the first half, it looked like this would be a game. That ended about halfway through the third quarter. Garnett only put in 13, Rondo had 6 points, and failed to reach double digit assists with 9. Sullinger had a team Boston Celtics at San Antonio Spurshigh 7 rebounds off the bench, and Jason Terry had a huge first half and managed to score 18 points total, even though he slowed down significantly in the second half. Parker put in 22 for the Spurs while Gary Neal was able to score 20, as the Spurs improved to 19-6.

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.

C’s Squeeking By?

Obviously, we learned last year that no one should count the Celtics out early. They were awful at the beginning of last season and still made it to game 7 against the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. However, we barely beat the Wizards, and lost against the Bucks, two teams that we should beat night in and night out. Pierce is playing incredible, Rondo’s defense has gotten stronger, and KG is always reliable, even after a tough shooting game on Saturday.

The biggest thing to note is the way these new players are mending together. Doc said that he needs to find a way to mix and match the second unit better. He started doing this by putting Jared Sullinger into a starting role, in which he played great. You can tell that he is still young and needs to work, but he has to be ahead of where most rookies are at this point in their careers.

Personally, I am not worried about the C’s this season, and neither should you. We have so much depth and about 7 people that can put up double digits on any given night. Once they get going, they are going to be a tough team to stop.  Next up is the Wizards again on Wednesday at home. Hopefully we have this game won before 28 seconds in the 4th quarter.

Celtics Look To Pass the Buck In Their Home Opener

ImageHome Sweet Home: Tonight the Boston Celtics will look to bounce back from a season opening loss to the reigning NBA Champs, the Miami Heat, as they host the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden at 7:30pm. Paul Pierce and company will go up against the run and gun Bucks lead by point guard Brandon Jennings. Boston should have the upper hand in this match-up as the Celtics swept the season series last year winning all three contests against Milwaukee.

Likely Lineups: Let’s take a look at the toe-to-toe roster rundown for this one:

Celtics                                                                               Bucks

PG  Rajon Rondo                                                         PG  Brandon Jennings

SG  Courtney Lee                                                        SG     Monta Ellis

SF    Paul Pierce                                                         SF    Mike Dunleavy

PF   Brandon Bass                                                       PF     Drew Gooden

C    Kevin Garnett                                                         C   Samuel Dalembert

Image

Player Previews: No surprise the usual suspects for Boston will come up big in this one as Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, and Kevin Garnett will all do their part. But look for potential six man of the year award winner Jason Terry (8 points against Miami, 4 of 4 from the free throw line) to spark for a few scores and also keep an eye on another new guy in Leandro Barbosa (16 points against the Heat) who could become a solid swing man for the C’s.

Image

For the Bucks the dynamic scoring duo of guards Brandon Jennings (19.1 PPG last year) and Monta Ellis (20.4 last year) is always a deadly combo. Those two can simply light up the scoreboard when they’re both clicking. Another player to watch, if he gets the minutes, is backup forward Ersan Ilyasova. Ilyasova averaged 13 PPG with 8 RPG last season. He could see more minutes if his numbers continue to have a steady uptick.

When 2 Watch: As mentioned earlier the C’s home opener will begin tonight at 7:30pm. If your going to the game be sure to cheer loudly, drink responsibly and as always enjoy the game.