Injuries have clouded the Celtics’ ability to dominate the East, but yet they began the season 23-5. Boston blew away opponents in the early going. The Celtics punished teams defensively. Rajon Rondo emerged quickly into a star. Garnett didn’t look like vintage KG in the first two months, but he did produce.
What the first 28 games did is create delusions of grandeur for the players who believed 2009-10 would pan out just as 2007-08 did. What’s more, the Celtics thought their prowess from the championship season would just reappear and didn’t work to improve obvious weaknesses despite the early victories.
29-3. 27-2. 23-5. Three NBA seasons, three fast starts. What this tells us is the same thing it told us back in 1990-91, when the Celtics started the season with an improbable 29-5 record: Gaudy records are fun, they build enthusiasm, and they sell tickets. But they don't mean much in April and May, with 1986 and 2008 being notable exceptions.
If I were Danny Ainge, my concerns would be threefold:
Do the Celtics have what it takes to start playing the kind of defense that wins games in the fourth quarter? I don't think we execute very well down the stretch either. But a smothering defense can sometimes hide a stumbling offense, especially if that defense creates turnovers and easy points in transition.
THE BIG, BAD, CELTICS
Can the Celtics add a snarl to their game? Screw the smack. I mean stick a sock in it. What I want to see is some action. Mouths shut, mean ugly faces, and some bad ass basketball. Amid the 1970 Boston Bruins title run (i.e., the Big, Bad, Bruins) SI ran an article in which an opposing coach described the locals as a team that couldn't wait to impose a beating the second the puck dropped to start the game. The Celtics had that kind of mojo in 2008. They need to get it back.
Does Doc Rivers have any tricks left up his sleeve? The pre-season, duck-boat ride was clever. The light on the blank wall at the practice facility next to banner 16 spoke volumes. But the blank banner next to #17 seemed a bit too familiar. I remain convinced that Doc is a great motivator of men. He needs to bring this team together, get it going in one direction, because right now it's going every whichy way.