What in the world is going on with the Boston Celtics? The much-maligned core group Big 3/Big 4 has pulled itself together in the post-All-Star break schedule and after an impressive March has made April its time to shine. Let's examine three major keys as to what is going on:
- With shooting guard Ray Allen injured the Celtics have plugged in defensive whiz and back-up point guard Avery Bradley. With his energy on the defensive end and surprising offense, the Celtics actually look more impressive than they did with the age-less Ray Allen in the lineup. With Allen getting healthy (somewhat), the decision by coach Doc Rivers to bring Allen off the bench and start Bradley is entirely the correct decision. Allen is needed with the second unit to provide the scoring that unit suffers from when it's on the court. Bradley provides defense on the best scorer on the opposition that Allen or Paul Pierce could not provide.
- Doc Rivers needs to keep Allen coming off the bench. That is his value at this time, and in reality, at a reasonable salary, if Ray Allen keeps the ego in check and accepts that role, he could play here another five years with that incredible shooting touch.
- STRENGTH IN THE MIDDLE:
- Let's face it, the days of the dominating center in the NBA are long gone. The 7 foot tall, 300 pound behemoths are gone. In their place are the long-arm, stretch power-forwards disguised as a center. With no beasts to contend with, it makes perfect sense to go small and put Kevin Garnett at center where he is in position on defense to do what he does best: disrupt shots. With under-sized Brandon Bass at power forward, he can move out to the perimeter to cover the big guys firing up 20 footers.
- Waiting for the O'Neals killed the Celtics last year. With Jermaine O'Neal rocking the Dire Straits again this season ("Money for Nothing") it only makes sense to keep their best players on the court together.
- MOTIVATION AT POINT GUARD:
- Rajon Rondo is a diva. Fortunately, he is a happy diva as the trade deadline has passed and he has not been disrupted. No best friends traded away. No being ripped in the press. Like fellow divas, when he is happy, everyone is happy. Rondo is happy. The assists are flowing like wine at a family reunion. Against the Hawks at home on the back-to-back after a huge road win at Miami, it was encouraging to see Rondo continue to push the ball up the court. He takes too many chances on defense going for the steal for my taste, and his outside shot and free throws are hit and miss (mostly miss), but when he pushed the ball on offense and is aggressive on defense, he is a top 5 point guard and makes a huge difference in the game.
- Another key point with Rondo and Avery Bradley on the court together is that either one can handle the ball coming up the court, keeping the ball out of the hands of the poor-dribbling Paul Pierce. Too many turnovers occur with Pierce handling the ball. I blame it still on M.L. Carr and Antoine Walker. Doc needs to tell Pierce to get his fat rear-end down the court and let the guards bring the ball up.