The Boston Celtics completed a grueling post All Star five game, seven night road trip. The west coast journey following the All Star break is a customary event for team green, who have to vacate the confines of TD Garden to accomodate “Disney On Ice”. This season; in addition to having to grind through a challenging trip to five cities while crossing three time zones, the Celtics had to endure the seemingly non-stop trade rumors circling around two of the team’s cornerstone players, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
While a deal for either future Hall of Famer never came to fruition, the distraction that the constant media quesitoning had to have been a distraction to some extent. the only trade that did happen was minor in nature; as injured guard Leandro Barbosa and seldom used journeyman center Jason collins were shipped to the Washington Wizards for talented but difficult Jordan Crawford. If the distraction and minor shake-up wasn’t enough, the team’s annual match-up against hated rival Los Angeles Lakers was heightened by the passing of “Showtime” owner Jerry Buss just two days prior; inspiring the under-achieving Lakers to victory.
A 2-3 record is not exactly what Celtics’ fans could have hoped, given three of their five contests were against teams with a losing record. Starting the West Coast trip with two losses, the prospects of going winless in this week’s worth of games seemed to be a growing possibility. Thanks to the “grit and balls” play of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett; coupled with solid contributions from Jeff Green and Avery Bradley, the Celtics were able to win two of their final three games of the trip and head home on a more positive note.
So, where does the team stand today? First off, after having such a compressed schedule over the past week, the team now benefits from only one game to play in the next seven days, a Friday night contest against Western Conference hopeful Golden State Warriors. The rest will come as a huge bonus for the aged legs of Pierce and Garnett; while also providing a breath for many reserve players who have had to log more minutes than initially planned due to a string of injuries to Rajon Rondo, Jarred Sullinger, and Leandro Barbosa.
The time off will certainly will be welcomed by head coach Doc Rivers; who has three new players that must become acclimated into the team’s offensive and defensive schemes. In addition to the aforementioned Jordan Crawford, the Celtocs also signed former NBA reserves Terrence Williams and D.J. White to contracts in order to add a measure of roster depth. While none of the three newcomers are expected to make a significant impact, there presence means that the current seven players who have all logged significant minutes in recent weeks can see an expected drop in their minutes; and perhaps occasional night off.
So as the Celtics prepare for the season’s final two months of action, they currently sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. With weak competition behind them and questionable ones ahead; if this Celtics team can build some measure of consistency in their next few games, they may see themselves ascending up the conference standings, and away from a troubling first round playoff series against the defending champion Miami Heat.
For me, regardless of how this season ends, I will take a measure of pride in how this under-achieving team has righted the ship in the face of adversity and positioned themselves for another playoff run. Anything less than a rematch against the Heat will be a disappointment for me, as I have relished in the Celtics long-standing heated rivalries and want this collection of players to have one last crack at the league’s elite. At that moment, win or lose, the Celtics can make a stand prove to the league once again what “Celtics Pride” really means.
Scott Duhaime is a passionate fan of the Boston Celtics and avid follower of the NBA for over 30 years; witnessing five of Boston’s 17 championships. He can also be heard as a co-host of “The Jungle” internet sports talk show on TitleTown Sports
Follow Scott on Twitter: @scott_duhaime
Yahoo! Sports: NBA Standings and Team Statistics
Yahoo! Sports: Boston Celtics Home Page
Rajon Rondo Injury Greatly Shifts the Boston Celtics Priorities
Boston Celtics’ Versatility Helping Team Overcome Adversity
Profiling the Celtics’ Trade Options as Deadline Approaches