1.15.2008

The Delicate Balance

You can’t play 82 regular games like every game is the 7th game of the NBA Finals. But you’ve got to bring it every night if you want to win.

And therein lies the rub.

You could see this one coming.

With the victory over the Detroit Pistons, the Boston Celtics moved to 29-3. At season’s end, it appears that this will likely mark the high-tide point of the season, record-wise.

The victory at Auburn Hills wasn’t the mid-point of the season, but it might as well have been. The Celtics had already swept the season series from the Lakers, avenged every loss they suffered thus far, and secured a road win over the team most pundits expect to give the Cs their biggest challenge in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

So I am not so sure what the Celtics are suffering from is a slump so much as it is a let down. The Celtics were on the Dean’s List for the first 32 games, and they decided it was safe to start coasting.

Every pundit will give you a different explanation as to what is going on.

I’m going to focus on rebounding.

We’ve lost three of four games. In those games our rebounding differential is even, -19 (including giving up 20 boards on the offensive end), -8, -2. Keep in mind that in late December the Celtics were the second best rebounding team in the entire NBA.

No desire, no rebounds. No rebounds, no Ws. Good defense is not just holding your opponent to a low field-goal percentage. It is also cleaning up the glass.

I’ll leave it to another post to decide whether we have the parts necessary to be the second best rebounding team in the league for the rest of the season. I’ll also leave it to another post to decide whether the Big Three really amounts to Kevin Garnett bringin’ it every night, Paul Pierce bringin’ it on most nights, but disappearing on others, and Ray Allen disappearing as often as KG brings it.

The 1985-86 Celtics lost 5 of 9 in December, a skid that started on the calendar only a couple of weeks before the 2007-08 Celtics began their current skid. So a December-January skid is not the end of the world.

Doc is playing his bench more, which is crucial for the playoffs. Danny still has some work to do in shoring up the roster.

So, ladies and gentlemen, what we have here is a period of transition.

Mid-season came a little early.

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