– by Megan Rilkoff.
So we are almost officially halfway through the NBA season. 32 games down, 34 to go. With All Star Week in full swing in Orlando, all teams are looking forward to a break – some well-deserved and well-earned, some…well, looked forward to. For the Celtics, we are definitely taking advantage of this break to regroup, heal, and rest while Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo represent us in the Sunshine State. With Lin blowing up in New York the past three weeks, the Knicks have just slipped past us in the Eastern standings and we currently hold the 8th spot.
Needless to say, Celts fans are disappointed. This 2012 season was supposed to be the epic last run for the Big Three (Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett) at another championship, as KG and Ray Allen are free agents at the end of this season.
Reiterated even more so this year than last season is the fact that our team is an “aging team,” which definitely cannot be refuted with the fact that all of our starters but Rondo are over 30. However, an aging team also means a more experienced team, and this definitely shows in our better moments. Like against the Bulls on February 12th at home or at the Thunder – one of the youngest teams in the league and number one in the West – on Wednesday night in the second half. Coming back from a 27-point deficit in the first half, the Celtics showed some of that old spark and energy that kept the game close in the final five minutes. But once again our turnovers and field goal percentage are killing us lately, as are our passion and frustration. KG is the one known for his intense passion, but last week it was Rondo who sat out 2 games against the Dallas Mavericks and the Thunder on his birthday, because of a rash move he made in Toronto, throwing the ball at a referee who neglected to call a blatant foul.
All of our frustrations aside – both players and fans – we still have the second half of the season left and a week to recover & heal from our injuries. With 15 players on our roster, 5 of them have been on the injured list during the month of February alone (Bass with his left knee, KG for personal reasons, O’Neal with knee). So for this aging and injured team, a week off is nothing short of a gift.
So what to look forward to in March and April? Bill Simmons’s creative post about an imagined four-year anniversary party for Danny Ainge’s “last good move” only brings to light the all-too-real possibility of some big changes in the Celtics roster during the next three weeks, with the trade deadline ending March 15. This time last year we had the rugs pulled out under us and our hearts ripped out when Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson were traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in return for Jeff Green (now out because of a heart condition) and Nedad Krstic (now playing ball in Russia). Needless to say, that trade didn’t benefit us so much, as much as Jeff Green lit it up for a bit while he was still healthy. Hopefully Danny Ainge does some better wheeling and dealing if it comes down to that next month. With the Celtics in 8th place in the East, it would be surprising if it doesn’t. If something isn’t working, something needs to change. We are still lacking a strong, big center (which we had in Perk and tried to push out of Shaq in the last games of his career). Jermaine O’Neal has looked better at times this season but is still too inconsistent to be reliable. Simmons mentions a trade for Pau Gasol of the Lakers to fill our center post (!)…I can’t even begin to imagine reconciling that trade. Major conflict of interest.
For now, we enjoy the festivities of All Star Week and root on Rondo and Paul as they represent the Celts in the top tier of the league. Our next game is February 28 at the Cavaliers in Cleveland. We have a long West Coast road trip coming up starting March 11, with 3 back-to-back games and lots of traveling. Regardless of the outcomes of the rest of the season, this could very well be the last season with the Big Three working together on the same team. I will be watching to see those priceless moments where the Celtics defy the criticisms about age and injury and really show the talent of the Championship team that they are. We are not Hollywood…we are not South Beach…we are Causeway Street. And we will continue to bleed green.