Words by Phlip
The gasps of potentially angered Celtics fans were audible all the way down here in Guilford County, NC, when Boston let Jesus Shuttlesworth escape, in the name of moves to make themselves a competitive team.An important thing to consider is that all accurate commentary is that they were headed to the glue factory coming into last season only to be totally surprised when they made a push to take the eventual NBA Champions to 7 games in a conference final. Impressive for a team that was pretty much marked for dead and due to be dismantled to rebuild, no?
In the wake of Ray Allen, smart moves they made were scoring Jason Terry in Free Agency and Courtney Lee in a trade, then what MIGHT be the coup of the draft in getting Jarred Sullinger – who might have been a top-5 pick if he had left college one season before he actually did – all while retaining the services of Kevin Garnett. Yes, I am well aware that Kevin Garnett is likely the oldest 36 year-old in NBA history until Kobe gets there in 2 years, but retaining him serves double utility… (1) he is the heart and soul of this team’s mindset and intensity, and (2) Sullinger would do amazing to take some mentoring from a surefire Hall-of-Fame bound player.
Boston still boasts a top-5 Point Guard talent in Rondo who could easily crack the top three if he is working on a jumpshot right now while he blows off the Olympics. Boston still boasts a gritty head coach who manages the enormity of the egos on his roster as well as anyone else in the league right now, even up to getting more than expectations out of them.
As a card-carrying Lakers fan, I would prefer to see the Celtics make it to the playoffs as a 3 or 4 seed, then get swept out of the second round with everyone present and healthy enough to compete. I am just the kinda guy to want to see them embarrassed like that when expectations are actually pretty high.
Alas, they’re in a division with the inept New York Knicks, the young-and-unprepared Sixers and the in-need-of-jell-time Brooklyn Nets. I did not mention the Raptors because they will not be making the playoffs before my daughter goes to elementary school. Boston is in a conference that will remain largely unchanged for anything that matters other than the benefit they have over nearly everyone – experience. That in mind, and considering Chicago’s most major piece will be down for a while, Boston can be crayoned back into the conference finals with the Miami Heat. As someone who is not a fan of LeBron James or the assemblage of the Heat in the very least; if we assume health of both teams, we can assume the presence of Miami going back to the NBA finals.
Don’t get me wrong, Boston’s prospects being as high as they are representative of the metaphorical foot in the door and we all know how valuable a foot in the door is to getting in out of the summer sun. Their advantages are still at the positions occupied by Rondo and Garnett, and that could be what it takes to go from being “the team that gave the Heat their hardest time” in the playoffs to being “the team that unseated the champs.”
The beauty of it is that it is not only possible, but quite plausible.
Words by Phlip