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Celtics Pre-Playoff Post #1: Depth Chart

March 25, 2010

Get 'em, boys!

Get 'em, boys!

Is that a grin I see on your face?
Hmmm. Maybe more like a smirk. It sort of looks like a, um, “Yeah, I knew it all along” kind of smirk.?

You did know it, didn’t you?
I can’t say that I knew it all along, but certainly knew it was possible.

A little while back, many of us were in panic mode. The Celtics were inconsistent, couldn’t piece together a decent half, let along an entire game, and looked to be completely out of sorts. Guys were injured. Roles were quickly and uncomfortable changing. Fingers were, alas, being pointed everywhere. KG was never going to recover. Pierce’s injury was becoming as long as shopping list. Ray’s touch was gone. Rondo wasn’t playing consistent, gritty ball for his 40+ minutes on the floor. Perk fell off the face of the planet. The trade rumors. The disastrous sub .500 January. The up and down play of the bench and their inability to hold leads. The flat play of the starts unable to get a lead.

It was enough to make a man drink.
And drink, many of you did.

But the last 2 weeks have been a pain reliever. The kind you pop every few hours to make the world seem calm and settled once again.
In an emotional post I wrote a few weeks ago, I begged all of us to realign our expectations for the remainder of the season. It was a not a dismissal note, by any means, nor was it a call to arms. The post was a simple mental gesture for myself to release some of the tension that was building up in Celtic fandom.

Looking into the playoffs, Jeff Clark at CelticsBlog wrote a good piece about the something that I tweeted (twatted?) the other night: the importance of the 3rd seed in the East. Read Jeff’s short piece here instead of my cryptic tweets, but here is a quick synopsis:
If the Celts finish 3rd, they’d like see Miami, Toronto, or Charlotte in the first round, then the Magic in the 2nd round, followed by the Cavs/Hawks in the ECF. If the Celts finish 4th, they’d likely see a raging hot Bucks team in the opening round, the Cavs in the 2nd round, and either the Magic or Hawks in the ECF. Ummmm… yeah. I’ll take the first option, please.

Our starters are playing well right now; they are moving the ball well and they are active on both ends of the floor. People are moving on both offense and defense. There is nothing lackadaisical about their style right now: there is some inspired play going on in the proud green/white.

The bench is also playing very well. As we all know, the Celtics won’t do a full substitution in the playoffs: they’ll simply have a rotation of 8-9 guys, including the starters… barring injuries and foul trouble in any given game.

8-9 guys.
Not 11. 8-9. Doc has a very difficult decision ahead of him, but a damn good calamity to find himself in.

The case for each reserve:

  • Nate Robinson. The dude has been on fire from behind the arc: Nate-Rob is shooting a blistering 46% from 3pt. He’s also averaging 7 points, 2 dimes and a steal each game. Not bad for 16 minutes per game. Wordaap. Unfortunately, he’s still missing assignments on defense. But, he really is the energy guy. I hate to even say it (sorry, Eddie), but he may be more of an energy guy than one of the subjects that he was traded for… I think Nate-Rob is going to see plenty of minutes, especially because he can eat guys like JJ Reddick + Jason Williams or Boobie Gibson alive from the Magicians and Cavs, respectively (Delonte West, on the other hand, would be a good matchup for Nate-Rob). Wordaap.
  • Marquis Daniels. Quisy will see the reserve minutes despite his recent play: he brings a high defensive IQ and intensity, great offensive awareness, and an ability to slash as a bigger wingman. Quisy can guard the tough opposing 2s and 3s, while also handling the ball without fear of pressure. In recent games, however, Quisy has been anything but hot: lots of bad decisions on offense of forcing up shots and plenty of fouls to boot. Hopefully he can return to form and be that versatile point forward that he was built to be. With Doc’s history, though, I don’t see how Doc would sit Quisy even in this (hopefully) mini slump.
  • Rasheed Wallace. Dare I even say it? Man, he’s been quiet: both figuratively and literally. In the last 14 games, Sheed has only cracked the double digit mark in the scoring column twice. Lots of 4, 5, and 7 point games in there. More importantly, Sheed has only attempted 25 threes in the last 14 games: less than 2 attempts per game! Even more surprising: 16 blocks in the last 14 games! I like the no-nonsense Sheed that we are seeing. Maybe he ran out of his voice? Sheed’s rebounding has been solid, and is starting to make a foothold, albeit still a small one, on the post. Hallelujah.
  • Glen Davis. The re-transformation of Davis, once again, is starting to come together toward the playoffs. The jumper hasn’t been the focus this year: taking charges, getting rebounds, and 5-7 foot leaners has been Glen’s learning curve this season. While it’s not perfect, and he can still be found roaming around the inner perimeter looking for that 15-17 footer when he is desperately needed underneath. I see good reason to keep him in the rotation: his size, hustle, and anticipation could make him a great offensive rebounder. He wants minutes, and will do almost anything for those minutes.I like that he plays tough and isn’t afraid to jostle it up with the bigger boys.
  • Michael Finley. A very, very pleasant surprise from the 37 year old. Yes, I said that right. 37. As in, 3 short years away from 40. Go Fin. Fin’s falling jumper is the second hottest thing on the floor besides his sweet Jordan PEs that he sports each night. Fin has bee a godsend in helping to stretch the floor for the reserves, which does 2 miraculous and unsung things: 1) it removes the excuse for Sheed to be anywhere other than the post and 2) gives Ray and Pierce some extra breaths on the bench. All of his minutes in the last 10 games or so have come at the expense of Tony Allen’s maturational season… which is too bad. I understand that Doc needed to quickly integrate Fin into the system and get him some minutes to see what he can offer the team, but it actually pains me to see Tony ride the pine like a weenie. I love that we picked up Fin as a risk-free investment, and I think his veteran-ness and championship bravado will be no-brainers for Doc. Brian Robb, over at CelticsHub, made a great point about how he’s also missing TA’s minutes… and how he is unlikely to see them back from Fin, but could see them from Quisy’s minutes if his play doesn’t improve soon. Certainly an entertaining thought.
  • Tony Allen. I miss his uptempo play, his in your face defense, and his thunderous dunks. I really, really, really do. And god do I miss the TA jig. I think his hustle and improvement of his general basketball IQ makes him a perfect compliment for the situations when Rondo wants to push the ball up hard. TA can also guard the guys that, quite frankly, no one else wants to guard.

So there you have it. 6 guys off the bench that could play, but only 3-4 will see some decent minutes. Shelden and Scal can pretty much count out any possibility of playing… They may not even get garbage time in the playoffs. There are just too many guys on this bench that can and deserve to get reserve minutes. This is the best possible problem to have at the end of March.

Stand up, folks. It’s almost that time.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2010 2:10 pm

    It was great to see the C’s in person again last night. And to see things clicking so well for them. The starters were all on fire, especially Rondo. He still makes some sloppy young mistakes, but he’s totally what makes this squad work.

    I liked Tony Allen and Glen Davis a lot. They just quietly and consistently did their job. Quisy and Fin also played some solid minutes. But Nate-Rob and Sheed were just a hot mess last night. I think Robinson is a good scrappy choice for when Pierce and Rondo are in foul trouble, but it’s obvious watching him play that he’s the new kid on the block.

    • March 25, 2010 3:27 pm

      Minus the 3rd quarter, it was a great game for the Cs. Glad you got to be there!

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