The Boston Celtics have been playing great basketball all season long, even recently without the presence of former league MVP Kevin Garnett. Garnett who suffered an abdominal muscle strain two weeks ago has missed the team’s last seven games. Over that time period the men in green have produced a 5-2 record with nice victories over the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks.
One key to the teams overall success this year has been their dominant play versus the Western Conference. After yesterdays win over the Spurs, the Celtics season record against the West is a perfect 16-0. The energy at the TD Banknorth Garden this season feels like that of the old Boston Garden in the 80’s when Larry Bird was still in uniform and leading the team to their 16th NBA Championship in 1986.
Did someone say Green 17?
It might still be too early to start to think about another banner hanging from the rafters, but it’s not too early to see that this team definitely has the potential to win another title. When was the last time that midway through the NBA season the Celtics were the heavy favorites to represent the East in the Finals? Can’t remember? That okay because neither can the team. Most of them were in middle or elementary school when the Celtics last made a run at a title in 1988 but fell short to the Detroit Pistons in 6 games in the Eastern Conference Finals. The teams post-season run in 2002 was more of a Cinderella story then the domination we are seeing this year.
Besides the off-season additions of Garnett and Ray Allen, what makes this year’s team so much different from last years? It’s the little things, not to mention the C’s are showing some heart on the court every night. They’re diving for loose balls, hustling back on defense, taking charges, out rebounding bigger teams, and most importantly they are doing it all as one unit.
Members on this year’s team are accepting their roles. The Celtics are not asking Paul Pierce to take the 20 shots he was averaging a game last year. He has a better supporting cast, therefore his shot selection has improved, creating better offensive looks and more production for the team. James Posey is only averaging 24 minutes a game, but in those minutes is producing on both ends of the court. He’s providing a defensive spark and the three point shot as well, shooting at .410 percent from behind the arc through 48 games.
It’s about time that a Danny Ainge trade is finally panning out, the Celtics can say that they clearly got the better end of the KG deal. Not only is the team winning, but the hibernating fans of the past ten years are coming to life, and Boston is once again a basketball city and not just an East Coast tourist attraction.
As the playoffs approach and the anticipation continues to grow, keep an eye on the younger players on the roster like Rajon Rondo, Glen Davis and Kendrick Perkins who have never been in the NBA Playoff atmosphere before. The mix of veterans on the team should be able to help them along the way but one can only hope that they will step up to the challenge when the time calls for it.
When Garnett returns from the injury and the C’s are back at full strength the rest of the NBA needs to keep one thing in mind; this team is on a mission and they will not stop until it is complete.