And just like that the season is over for our Boston Celtics. Losing has and will always be hard to accept, especially for a franchise with this rich tradition and history of championships. But as our colleague Karl indicated on the site earlier "Losing is part of being a sports fan”.
What the Celtics showed us before their 2nd round exit was the importance of team chemistry and brotherhood. How they return from this latest disappointment will test their resolve and could potentially build a stronger base for a championship run in 2011-2012
This season was extremely turbulent and the trade deadline moves that transformed this roster into what see today had a profound effect on the team’s chemistry. Once the trade took place, the Celtic season was like a predictable movie. The trades were the big plot twist and we could see the ending of this season right down to the closing credits. Bringing in the likes of Krstic and Green was supposed to help the team’s offense but Boston actually became a worse offensively efficient team after the trade. It’s almost baffling to think Kendrick Perkins meant as much as he did to the team’s offense despite only averaging 7.3 points per game this season and 10.1 last season.
What it boils down to was Perk’s ability to clog the paint defensively and grab rebounds. He was a deterrent for opposing lane drivers and as we all know defense leads to offense. Perk also knew the offense and could set bone shattering screens that would get his teammates open looks on pin downs and screen and roll. That was his value coupled with his spirit in the locker room.
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When the O’neals were signed in the off season it was supposed to equate to an embarrassment of riches with multiple bigs on the roster. Once the O’neals went from luxury to necessity after Perk was dealt, this team was playing a game of Russian roulette. Danny Ainge acted in what he thought was the best interest of the team at the time. He even said he would do the moves over again if he had to. Ainge took a shot. He made a call and unfortunately it was the wrong one.
Green was brought on to provide depth behind Pierce and KG. Clearly the stage and the pressure were too big for him and he often looked like a man haunted by the ghost of Perkins. Doc said in the post game press conference of Game 5 “This was a great experience for Jeff, he should learn from this to work on some things this summer.” Translation? Green wasn’t ready for the pressure of these playoffs or his role off the bench. Baby struggled as well and his value to the team dwindled gradually as the season progressed. Both of these guys have probably cost themselves some money this summer with their play. The Celtics might be up for the "hometown discount" should they wish to re-sign either this summer.
Part of being in a family/business is understanding people come and go. Perk is already gone and Shaq we can only hope is retiring. Green, Baby, Krstic, West, Arroyo, Murphy, Wafer, and Pavlovic all are free agents this summer. Ainge must now decide who of that group is no longer worthy to wear the family colors. Whoever is on the Boston roster next season will need to be accepted and brought up to speed relatively quickly. If Doc does indeed return, there is no doubt he is capable of such a task. The Boston principles and beliefs are that of a champion. Nurturing the new members and exposing them to the Boston Celtic tradition will be a matter of personal business in pursuit of Banner 18.