Saturday, February 16, 2008

Halfway Home

Two days in a row, two non politics stories. With the NBA All Star game tomorrow, we are at the unofficial mid point in the NBA season. The Celts go into the break with an impressive 42-9 record, the best in the NBA.
Some questioned how well a team of all stars would mesh, the C's have answered the call. Here's a look at grades so far for the team.

The Big Three
Kevin Garnett: A- By most accounts KG is the NBA MVP so far this season. His mere presence has inspired the rest of the team to play at a level of defense not seen in many years. Offensively he makes everyone better in a way not seen around here since the glory days of Larry Bird. He has missed the last 10 games in which the Celtics have gone 8-2. It has given the team a chance to mature while showing the fire that Garnett has instilled in the team.

Paul Pierce: A- At times Paul has struggle to find where he fits in the offense. He has seemed to jell better after about 30 games. His defense has been the best of his career. He has always had good defensive abilities, but has had to carry too much of the load on offense and has conserved his energy. Not this year.

Ray Allen: B Ray has suffered as the odd man out at times. He went through a real rough spot around the beginning of January. All the while Ray has played good defense and been a solid citizen. Come playoff time Ray will be more in the flow and will be an equal to the other members of the big 3.

Other Starters
Rajon Rondo/Kendrick Perkins: B- Rondo has performed above expectation but really needs to make the intermediate jumper more. Kendrick has filled the role well playing sold defense and rebounding. There have been a few games where he played with great fire and had great games. He needs more consistency.

First Off the Bench
James Posey B+ James Posey gives the team toughness and an enforcer that makes sure that the stars don't take cheap shots. He also has the knack for making the big three point shot. He also seems to take one charge late in the game that changes the game.

Eddie House: B Eddie House is the Vinnie the microwave of this team. He is a little mis cast as a back up point guard. His chief role should be to back up Ray Allen. When he has to handle the ball too much he doesn't make the three as consistently. If the Celts wind up getting a back up point guard like Cassel, it will help House not hurt.

Tony Allen: B Tony has at times been amazing. He is starting to show the pre injury burst of speed. His defense is fantastic. Tony needs to play with the same intensity every night. When he drives to the hoop with his left hand, he might as well hand the ball to the other team. Go to your right Tony.

Rest of the Bench
Glenn Davis: A- Glenn's baby face and polish under the hoop has made him a fan favorite. He seems to come up big often. Against San Antonio he had to guard Duncan for the most of the game because both Garnett and Perkins wer hurt. Without the inspired play of Davis the Celts would not have beaten the defending champion. His injury in the last game has the potential to be ugly.

Leon Powe A- Pressed into service about 30 games into the year and Powe has been solid. Think Charles Oakley with better touch around the hoop. Another guy that provides toughness. Without Powe, the Celtics would not have been 8-2 without Garnett.

Brian Scalabrine: C+ His best value will be as trade fodder next year. He has played ok, but I'd rather all of his minutes go to Davis and Powe.

Scott Pollard: C- He has been solid in limited action. Another guy that provides toughness, unfortunately has been hurt most of the year.

Gae Pruitt: N/A I like what I have seen in Pruitt, I just haven't seen much of it. It is unlikely that the C's will give him a lot of time down the stretch.

Doc Rivers: A+ Doc has een kicked around for much of his stay in Boston, but I can't think of a better coach for this team. He has them playing great defense and is always making the good substitutions. Kevin Garnett has been averaging 35 minutes per game. He is getting the whole team involved and has kept all the egos happy. People were unsure how this team would mesh, thanks to the great work by Doc, they are way ahead of schedule.

Within the next 10 days we will know if Sam Cassell will be coming to Boston. Getting ejected for a hard foul on Rondo was not the way to endear himself to a new team mate. Cassell would be a welcome luxury on an already great team.
Since this team is uilt on defense first, it will go a long way in the playoffs. In the East, the only team that can stop them isn't the Pistons, it's the Cavaliers if Lebron carries his team on his broad shoulders. The have beaten the Lakers without Allen, the Spurs without Garnett and Perkins, and the Mavericks without Allen and Garnett.

If Garnett is healthy, this is a championship team

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