In early October, Boston Celtics fans were eagerly awaiting the 2012-2013 to start. After losing in 7 games to the eventual champions, Celtics fans had extremely high hopes entering into that fall campaign, with hopes of being the 2013 champs at the end of this season.
Unfortunately, fate and basketball were not kind to the Celtics this season. Before the season even started, the Celtics best on-ball defender, Avery Bradley would be out for the first 3 months of the season. Without Avery in the lineup there was no consistency on the defensive side of the board. Next was the personnel change in Boston—-10 of 15 new faces, never coached by Doc Rivers, and never having played in the Celtics system. This alone would take months to develop, and left the Celtics way behind in terms of development compared with other teams.
The next strike against the Celtics was the inability to find a big man to fill the lane, provide rebounding, and have the ability to give either Pierce or Garnett a rest spell off the bench. During this time, Celtics fans were also distracted by the horrific events of some of our New England fans with the mass shooting in Sandy Hook, CT. The Celtics didn’t even get the reprieve of cancelling their game that night, as the NBA & David Stern gave them no options of dealing with the tragedy with their fans that night.
The bench took time to work into the rotation and were actually coming along well after the new year, when Rajon Rondo went down for the season with the torn ACL. Without a point guard, the Celtics floundered down the stretch, as they couldn’t seem to get the correct ball movement needed and no one was able to initiate any type of shot-making ability; as well as the loss of another rebounder and assist-maker.
From there, things went from bad to worse. Next up was the loss of Jared Sullinger, the best rebounder that the Celtics had, and then the loss of Leandro Barbosa, who was actually the best bench scorer the Celtics had. Jason Terry’s scoring issues during the season did nothing to settle the 2nd team down, but rather left it wanting for some much needed scoring.
After back and forth with wins and losses in March & April, Garnett finally needed a break to rest his injuries, while Paul Pierce continued to play with a pinched nerve in his neck. The additions of Jordan Crawford (who at best, is a streaky shooter) and Terrance Williams (who should have been bringing the ball up the court) were welcome, but a bit late in the process to help the Celtics playoff run, as they had very little time in uniform to process the learning curve.
Then in mid-April, the final stone was cast on the Celtics life, as the Boston marathon bombings occurred, and took the life and energy out of both the city and the Celtics. During this stretch, the Celtics were kept from coming home to deal with this tragedy by both their schedule and by local authorities, as a lot of the city was on lockdown for almost 72 hours.
Finally, bad shooting, inconsistent ball-handling, turnovers, and a lack of consistency in the 3rd quarter ultimately doomed our beloved Celtics in round one of the 2013 playoffs. But I DO say this—-if any other team in America would have endured what the Celtics did this year, I suffice to say that I seriously doubt that they would have even MADE the playoffs.
Being said, it’s time to get back to work, and make some serious decisions concerning the future of Celtics basketball. Two of the most pressing issues right now are for a center (or space-taking power forward) and a back up point guard that can create his own shot without having to rely on Rondo to feed or initiate the ball. It was a matter of time before our weaknesses caught up to us this season—-so we’ll need to strengthen those weaknesses in the off-season, and get ready to grab that ring next season. We have some good pieces to the puzzle, and hopefully, won’t have the injuries or circumstances like we did to end 2013.