The Boston Celtics started their post All-Star break in Golden State, a place that had not yielded a win to the C’s for the last six seasons, and through veteran play down the stretch against a younger, quicker team, including some big shots from the Real Big 3, they managed a 22 point victory. Two days later, with the trade deadline hours away and a game to be played later that night in Denver, Danny Ainge decided to deal Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City. As news reached the Celtics team that their teammates (as well as Luke Harangody and Semih Erden being dealt to Cleveland) Kevin Garnett summed up the feeling of the team, especially about Kendrick Perkins, “…it feels like we lost a family member today.” When Garnett came to the team he took Perk under his wing, and although we all thought Perk already had an attitude, Garnett taught him how to hone that attitude into something that was positive for the team and essentially made them the “Bad Boys” of the new century. I believe what I am trying to say is that I hope the stay Perkins has in OK City is a pleasant one because I would not be opposed to the Celtics giving him the deal he deserves when the summer comes and bring him back to Boston, and they will regret not giving him that deal if Jeff Green does not pan out and we come within one game of winning the title again.
The Celtics, obviously flustered by what had transpired earlier in the day and only dressing 9, were beaten at the end of the game by the Nuggets and out rebounded by 15, continuing the trend of being in the bottom of the league in rebounds per game. If you read my earlier post about the return of Kendrick Perkins you will see that all the words I used along with the idea of claiming a championship with him healthy and in the lineup is now obsolete, but a very encouraging thing happened on Saturday night when the West Coast trip was continued in Los Angeles against the Clippers. Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic are the players Boston received from OKC (including a Top 10 protected 2012 First Round pick through the Clippers) and although Green was the big name, Krstic showed us something that we may not have expected and need him to continue to do…he had 6 of the Celtics 14 total offensive rebounds. Realizing the mistake it could be to over analyze his performance on the offensive boards (he did not record a defensive rebound), Krstic had already been billed as mostly a big man perimeter shooter and not much of a threat down low banging with the big bodies. Let us hope that he can show games like this against the Magic or Knicks (the Heat are not a problem when it comes to rebounding for Boston).
So here is the short break down for the remaining 25 games of the season. Great news is that more than half (14) of the remaining games are against teams with losing records. Sadly, in the “not so great” category, 15 of the games will be on the road, including trips to New Orleans, New York, San Antonio, Atlanta, Chicago, and Miami…who said it was going to be easy to secure the number one spot in the East? Now, the most important fact of these remaining games is that Boston has 6 more back-to-backs left in the next two months, with potentially (we hope) easy ones on March 13th and 14th (vs. Milwaukee, @New Jersey), March 27th and 28th (@Minnesota, @ Indiana), a bad and good on April 7th and 8th (@ Chicago, vs. Washington) and April 10th and April 11th (@Miami, @Washington), and some real trouble spots on March 18th and March 19th (@ Houston, @ New Orleans) and March 31st and April 1st (@San Antonio, @ Atlanta). The degree of difficulty appears to be evened out, but here in all likelihood is where the Celtics are going to lose the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics record on the 2nd night of back-to-back’s is 6-7 this season…not so promising when you have 6 more left and you are trying the keep your position atop the Eastern Conference…I hope they make me eat my words, but I do not see them holding onto number 1 for the remainder of the season.
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