NBA Postseason Graveyard: Boston Celtics
Welcome, to the NBA Postseason Graveyard on The 12th Man, the NBA Hoops feature for Technorati! During the postseason, when a team gets eliminated, we will take a look back at their season, and what do they do for the future to get better. There are 15 graves here, and Wednesday night, the defending Eastern Conference champions were put to bed, and we take a look at the Boston Celtics.
2010-11 Boston Celtics
Playoff Result: won conf. quartefinal (Knicks 4-0)
lost conf. semifinal (Heat 4-1)
The Boston Celtics, much like their old foe, the Los Angeles Lakers, were expected to return to the NBA Finals.
However, the Celtics, much like their old foe, the Lakers, folded and bowed out in the second round.
The difference was Boston did not bow out like the Lakers did. They played hard until the final buzzer, but the new Big Three of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh outplayed, outwilled, and was just too much for the old Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen.
Boston, much like the last few years, got off to its fast start, and they were looking very healthy, and gelling as one unit. Keep in mind that this was done while their enforcer during this championship run, Kendrick Perkins, was out with injury after tearing his ACL in the NBA Finals against the Lakers. So at the All-Star Break, with the team at 40-14 and sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference, top Celtics decision maker (in the front office) Danny Ainge pulled the trigger on a deal that would scratch a lot of heads. The trading of Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic. Not only did the trade baffle many people outside of the Celtics organization, it was a great surprise to the players themselves.
The trade hasn't panned out for various reasons, starting with the ineffectiveness of Jeff Green. Green, who was much maligned in Oklahoma City for not being that third scoring option behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, kept that part of the game in Boston, where he really struggled to find his way with the team. The interior toughness of Perkins was missed, but one thing that Perkins did not provide was some additional points, which is what Shaquille O'Neal brought in during the first part of the season, until his calf started to bother him, and he was virtually ineffective the rest of the way. After February 1st, Shaq only played approximately 13 minutes the rest of the season (including the playoffs). Boston went 16-12 the rest of the way and fell to the #3 team in the East behind Miami and Chicago.
After dispatching the New York Knicks in a four-game sweep, the Celtics were on a virtual collision course with the Miami Heat. The Heat were peaking at the right time and just outmatched the veteran squad. With Rajon Rondo banged up from a gruesome dislocated elbow that he tried to play through from the second half of Game 3 and forward, it was the James, who hit a dagger of a shot in Game 4, and then was the catalyst of a 16-0 Miami run which was the final 16 points of the game after Boston was up six to lose 97-87, and sent the Celtics home for the summer. The questions arose when head coach Doc Rivers was asked if he would take time off (his contract expires at season's end) or come back and make another run at it, and barring a complete change of heart, Rivers expects to be back as the head coach. Pierce is under contract, and Allen has stated that he's not going anywhere. The question is will Garnett be back, and will Shaq give it one more run or hang it up? If Delonte' West can continue to improve as a decent sixth man, and if Jeff Green can find the guy that everyone saw at Georgetown that made him the fifth pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Boston could be primed to still be in contention. But they will be chasing the Heat this go around. The torch may have been passed to the new Big Three, but with some tweaks to the roster, Boston can still compete. Only time will tell on these questions and for Danny Ainge to address them. At least for next year (if there is one), the mission will still be the same in the Hub.