Boston closed out the Hawks yesterday in a game heralded by the media as “potentially the biggest upset in history.” While the Hawks definitely gave Boston a scare, the series was never that close. Boston outplayed Atlanta in every game – except for a few fourth quarters. Based on that experience, here’s what we now know about the Boston Celtics:
1. The Boston Celtics bench is no longer a weak point. Leon Powe, Glen Davis, and Eddie House have all proven that they can provide meaningful minutes. Add in Posey (a guy that’s good enough to start on a lot of teams in the league), and savvy vets Sam Cassell and PJ Brown, and you have a team that’s deep enough to go all the way. Kudos to Danny Ainge for acquiring those two vets, and kudos to Doc Rivers for bringing along the younger guys.
2. Rajon Rondo is still the weakest starter on the team, but his shortcomings will be minimized as long as Cassell is available off the bench. Rondo’s game is highly dependent on getting in the lane (something elite teams do a great job of stopping). Take that away from him and it throws off his rythym – offensively and defensively. Lucky for Boston, they’ve got a fantastic point guard coming off the bench in Sam Cassell, so it won’t be an issue.
3. Doc Rivers might cost Boston a championship. It’s clear to most observers that Doc can’t coach at an elite level. He doesn’t understand late-game management, and he has trouble understanding and exploiting match-ups. See games 3,4, and 6 of the Hawks series. Don’t get me wrong – Boston might be able to overcome their coaching handicap. Still, I think every remaining team in the playoffs has a better coach than Rivers.
4. The Celtics have trouble with teams that play at a fast pace with a lot of athleticism. Luckily, they won’t face any more teams like that this year, at least not until the NBA finals (if they make it that far).
5. The Celtics team chemistry is as good as any. A lot of commentators talk about the fact that Boston hasn’t played together enough to win it all, but I think that’s wrong. Look at the way the team has pulled together in tough games all year – they’ve got plenty of chemistry to go all the way.
6. Lebron James is going to give Boston fits. Imagine a stronger, faster, and more capable version of Joe Johnson tear-assing through the Celtic’s defense. Lebron is going to single-handedly terrorize the Celtics defense. Will his supporting cast be enough to put his team over the top? I don’t think so, but it will definitely be close.
7. Detroit controls Boston’s future. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Detroit is a better team than Boston. But will Detroit play like the better team in the conference championship? If every Detroit Piston is focused, and I mean totally focused, Detroit’s superior point guard play, bench depth, coaching, and experience should prevail. Boston’s bench is good now, but I’d still take the “zoo crew” over them. Having said that, Detroit did collapse last year against Cleveland. It’s going to be a great series…
I like Boston’s chances of reaching the NBA championship – I’d say it’s an even money bet.