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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

SDH's 2012/2013 NBA Worst to First Previews and Predictions: 12. Boston Celtics


Overall Win/Loss Record :  39-27 first place Atlantic Division

Last Season’s Rank

3

Projected 2012/2013 Finish

12
Last season’s Team Statistics and League Rank

  • Points Scored: 91.8 (26th)
  • Points Allowed: 89.3 (2nd)
  • Team FG%: .460 (5th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .419 (1st)
  • Rebounds per game: 38.8 (30th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 43.2 (21st)


Returning Individual Statistical Leaders

  • Scoring: Paul Pierce (19.4)
  • Rebounds per game:  Kevin Garnett (8.7)
  • Minutes per game: Rajon Rondo (36.9)
  • Assists per game: Rajon Rondo (11.7)
  • Steals per game:  Rajon Rondo (1.8)
  • Blocked Shots per game:  Kevin Garnett (1.0)

Projected Starters Based on Last Season’s Performance, Veteran Seniority and Projected Impact


Key Reserves Based on Last Season’s Performances, Veteran Seniority and Potential Impact.
2012/2013 Projection:  48-34 tied for third place in the Atlantic division, just trying to squeeze whatever little drops they can find on a well that will soon dry out.

Analysis:

Sorry, but someone has to knock some sense into Celtics and tell them that the five year rollercoaster ride that they have been on has already ended.  Last season, the Celtics struggled through most of it as they looked old, worn down, and beaten up and only managed to win their division by a rather slight margin.  They managed to beat an equally deteriorating Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs, barely got past a Philadelphia 76er team that struggled to put the ball in the basket, and gave whatever they had left until they were eliminated by the future NBA Champion Miami Heat.  All of that was a sign to say that this era of Celtic History has ended and it was time to start the rebuilding process as Boston had the good fortune of having close to 30$ million taken of the books once the season ended.  Celtics fans would say goodbye to Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett and they would keep the fond memories of the five year stretch of glory that they have enjoyed.

Unfortunately that did not happen; instead of seeing last season’s miracoulus run as a fitting end to an amazing era, the Celtics’ boss Danny Ainge had the delusion that his team can do the same thing again.  Instead of bidding a bond farewell to the soon to be 37 year old Kevin Garnett, who was probably on his way to retirement, Ainge decided to extend the aging big man to three more years at 36$ million erasing any the salary cap room the Celtics had for the next three years.  Ainge could have used that money to acquire a talented veteran big man on the free agent market such as Chris Kaman for example, or even used it to acquire a solid replacement via trade such as Utah’s Al Jefferson, Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge, or even Atlanta’s Josh Smith and Al Horford.  Instead, he took that money along with the cap space that came with and essentially wasted it giving 12$ million a year for the next three years to a man that he probably could have signed for half as much.  In doing so, Danny Ainge instead of improving the Celtics actually crippled it further holding onto a player that should have otherwise been let go.

Ainge tried to do the same with Ray Allen, but unlike his boss, Ray was smart—he already saw that the writing was on the wall.  He already deduced that the Celtics were no longer NBA Finals material and he did not waste the few years that he had left on a team headed nowhere fast.  Allen chose instead to sign with the NBA Champion Miami Heat where he would come off the bench, play for about 20 to 25 minutes per game, and hit open corner threes.  At the same time he can enjoy the glory of winning another two or three championship rings playing alongside Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh.  Now instead of trudging on a team that was on its last legs where he would probably be bumped off the rotation by a younger player resulting in him being traded by mid season, he is on a better team, playing fewer minutes, and spending his finals years on a true championship team. 

It is just too bad that Danny Ainge did not share Ray Allen’s foresight and go on a mission of futility trying to push the idea that his team still had enough left for another Championship run when in fact it is far from the truth.  Last season, the Celtics could neither score nor rebound and only managed to win due to its heart and their uncanny ability to grind games to a halt; they also had the luxury of it being a shortened season due to the work stoppage caused by last summer’s lockout.  Despite having an additional rest that was given from the shortened season, Boston’s big Three looked even more sluggish and out of shape as they started the season.  And although they managed to win their division for the fifth straight time, the Celtics did not even win home court advantage in last season’s playoffs which was the first time in four years.  All the signs were pointing to the virtual collapse of this aging Celtics team, but Ainge chose to ignore them and thus sentencing his team to flounder in mediocrity for the next three years.

Keeping Garnett for another three years does not improve the Celtics because the team probably would have performed just as well without him in the picture.  If anything, his retaining only goes to show the sad sense of delusion that the team has fed itself and its fans for much of its history—that Boston is invincible and that its roster is invulnerable to the limits of mortal men such as age.  They made the same mistake more than 20 years ago when they continued to ride Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin Mchale until the very end only to be left with nothing once they left.  One would think that Ainge would have learned from his predecessor, Red Auerbach’s mistakes and gone a complete different direction; however, Ainge has not and it looks as if history will repeat itself once again.  Unfortunately, the gravy train will end and once people wise up, Ainge will be out on his backside for ruining the team.