1) Orlando Game
If I'm Orlando (though I rarely find myself morphing into metro areas) I'm not feeling too good about that win. Up a gazillion to a team down two starters and three more rotation players who is also blending in two new guys, the Magic barely escaped. Do you believe in magic? I do not. A healthy Celtics team will buzzsaw Orlando.
Let's take an inventory:
Tony Allen: Out for the entire regular season.
Scalabrine: Out until April.
Big Baby: He was on crutches yesterday and is listed day to day.
Garnett: Good news from Marc Spears in the Globe: Kevin Garnett could return as soon as Sunday in Milwaukee.
Rondo: More good news from Marc Spears: Rondo could return as soon as Wednesday at Miami.
You know how so many people have been saying Rajon Rondo is the most important player on the Celtics? And you know how the heathen worshippers of false franchises snickered at that statement? Well, yesterday showed just how critical he is.
Without Rondo the Celtics were lost on both ends. Only when they shifted to "Ray in Seattle" mode did the Celtics mount their comeback. But "Ray in Seattle" mode, and for that matter "Paul alone" mode will only get you so far. For the Celtics to optimize their mojo on both ends they absolutely NEED Rondo. He pushes the tempo and stymies his opposite number. Without him the Celtics depend on individual play and are much less effective.
If you're hard on Marbury purely for bad play you're making a mistake. He's struggling on the floor; that's not a worry. He'll get his legs and game back.
The worry about Stephon Marbury was his attitude not his talent, remember? Also recall how long it took PJ Brown to contribute last season? Stephon Marbury is on the right path.
Due to the fickle nature of chance the Celtics have been forced to play Ray n' Paul extended minutes. This can't go on for too much longer. The team has got to think Health First. If it costs a spot in the standings so be it.
The fact that Ray n' Paul have played long minutes in early March does not matter. It's what they do over the next five weeks that will impact the playoffs. They have to get a little more rest. The return of tall guy and fast guy will help, but in the meantime I haven't seen anything from Bill Walker that says he shouldn't play.
Remember how brutal the early schedule was with so many games packed into such a short period of time? Unfortunately the Celtics have a week like that coming up just when they need it least. They play 5 games in 7 days starting Sunday against the Milwaukee Bucks and ending the following Saturday versus the Memphis Gasol-Donaters.
After that it's calm seas for the rest of the regular season.
7) When They Have Everybody
You know the line, "Can't anybody here play this game?" With luck the Celtics will have to answer the opposite question: When everyone returns who sits? You have 5 big men, 3 little guys, 3 wings, and Scal whatever he is; all who have earned minutes. That's 12. No team plays 12 in the playoffs.
One guy who will play is Leon Powe. Man has he been effective.
9) Pierce Now Third
As you know Paul Pierce has moved into third position on the all time Celtics scoring list behind only John Havlicek and Larry Bird. This is an extraordinary accomplishment. Generally stars who play on as many bad teams as Pierce did, don't stick around. They move on. That's a shame because playing with one team your entire career has a special lustre. (Nothing was sadder than seeing Robert Parish (Warriors don't count) as a Bull or Walt Frazier as a Cavalier.)
Congrats to Paul Pierce! May he someday retire a Celtic!
10) Dirty Celtics?
There were vile allegations of "dirty play" by the Celtics after Big Baby's gentle handling of Varejao in the Cleveland game. This is SO terribly untrue. Varejao went right at Baby's forearm, viciously attacking with his head. There is nothing uglier than an aggressive headbutt. Glen Davis to his credit remained calm. He took the hit and did not retaliate even though his forearm could have been severely injured.