One night after being blown away by the Sacramento Kings, the Boston Celtics traveled to Denver, hoping for a measure of St. Patrick’s Day luck to compensate for their anemic interior game. Not a chance. The Celtics were out-rebounded 46-27, and if the season were to end today, they would be the 7 seed and squaring off against LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Not a chance of our Celtics winning that series, not without bigs and depth and a Herculean effort on the part of Rajon Rondo and an aging Big Three.
I appreciate Doc Rivers being the eternal optimist, and I’m sure he’ll find a way to maximize the talent capable of suiting up on any given night. But at some point you have to admit that the Celtics are average at best, and Doc has to close to that point in his thinking. He’ll never tell his team that, of course. And the players, to a man, are convinced that this team can make a run at an NBA Championship. It’s sort of like that boxer who has gotten old but still believes his reflexes are what they once were – what once made him great.
The Celtics are no longer great, no longer elite. The window has slammed shut, and it’s time for everyone from ownership to Danny Ainge to admit that it was a mistake to try and remain competitive while rebuilding for the future. Boston now faces the prospect of missing the playoffs altogether, or being shown the door after Round 1. And what about the prospects for next year and beyond? Dwight Howard will play in Orlando again next season, and even if he weren’t, Boston had no real chance of signing him. And while Ainge will have money to burn, there just isn’t a game-changer out there to be had. It’s easy to see the Celtics mired in mediocrity for years to come.
But back to the here and now. The Celtics play the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, a road game that promises to be another interior mismatch for the C’s. You can bet Ainge will continue scouring the rejects and castoffs in search of someone - anyone - to provide some semblance of size in the paint. And having someone with size, and who can stay healthy enough to be counted on consistently, would be a boon for the Celtics at this point. It won’t happen by Monday, but it will happen.
Standing pat at the trade deadline has pretty much sealed the Celtics’ fate. Ainge now has to scrape the bottom of the barrel, come up with someone, and then make us believe that this guy will return the Celtics to contender status. Don’t be fooled. The Celtics will continue to struggle, no matter who they bring in to help.
Me, I’ll try to stay positive and I’ll keep drinking Ainge’s Kool-Aid. That’s about all I can do right now.