An End to Dread and the Drudgery?

My brother the Lakers fan was fond of saying that the Boston Celtics were the best team in the NBA during the month of November. It was the late 1980s and early 1990s, and his point was that while the Celtics often enjoyed fast starts, by spring their bodies had broken down due to old age and playing 40 minutes a game.

His intent was to needle me. But, of course, there was a kernel of truth in what he said. If you read Bob Ryan’s column from 24 years ago, you see that there could have been alternative endings to those seasons from the Late Bird Era. Doc Rivers, summoning the Ghost of Bob Boone, has no intention of allowing history to repeat itself. The bench will be used, and used so much that perhaps it may cease to exist as an identifiable unit separate from the starters. 

Rajon Rondo is your only sure fire starter. After that we have Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Yet with all the back-to-back games, how many nights will they take off altogether? Better yet, how many nights will Garnett and Pierce play bench-like minutes of 25 or less? I really like a bench unit that includes Jeff Green’s talent and energy. But there seems to be some momentum to the idea that Green will replace Paul Pierce in the starting line-up at some point in the season. If this happens, then really all bets are off and the difference between the first and second units melts away. I don’t see it happening, though.

One thing I do see happening is an end to what I call the Dread and the Drudgery, otherwise known as the dog days of winter. Even in seasons where the Celtics stay healthy and in title contention, they usually fall asleep once or twice for a few games, and this usually happens in January and February. Same old, same old becomes an unbearable slogging forward, feet frozen in cement, game after meaningless game, from one bleak, cold-weather climate to the next. 

I suspect Bob Boone Ball will change this and make the winter months more palatable for the players. It certainly won’t be more of the same old. As Doc said yesterday, nothing is set in stone, especially not player attitudes or expectations. That might be how you break down past player experiences and infuse a made-over roster with a dose of Ubuntu.

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