By Rob LaBrie
Five games ago, they were the worst team in the worst division in sports, a broken franchise with no hope of being fixed. Their young players were absolutely terrible, their coach had absolutely no idea, their GM was an absolute failure, and their only star was playing with absolutely no help.But then something funny happened to the Celtics. They started playing together. Al Jefferson became a man, recording five straight games with 10+ boards, including 4 double-doubles in that span. Paul Pierce stepped up his game even more, and the role players started actually playing their roles.
Now the Celtics are on top of the Atlantic Division (granted that’s not saying much) and look like they have the potential to break away considering the train wreck that is the rest of the division. They’ve won games on the road and at home, in their own division and in the Western Conference. If the season were to end today, their 10-13 record would be good enough for the 4th seed in the playoffs.
It looked like there was a good chance The Answer would be coming to Boston, but now it seems like The Truth will be good enough to carry the team into the playoffs. If Philly still wants Al Jefferson, there’s no chance of the deal happening. However, I’m sure Boston would still pull the trigger if a deal could be worked that didn’t include Jefferson or the young, lanky, and tantalizing Gerald Green.
Yes, life in the Fleet Center (for everyone but the Bruins) is good… for now. The Celtics have proven time and time again, year in and year out, that they are capable of playing great basketball when they feel like it for certain periods of time. However, they are also just as apt to pull a 180 at any time and start playing as if they were studying game film of Art Shell’s Raiders, or boxing matches of the new millennium Mike Tyson.
In fact, the only constant we Celtics fans have come to enjoy over the past few years has been the Celtics’ trademark inconsistency. They are still a very young team and supposedly for the past few years have just been beginning to come into their own. It’s said that once this group matures together, they will bring championships back to Boston, but despite these brief spurts, all they’ve shown so far is that they have the capability to become the Toronto Blue Jays of the NBA; a team that is pretty close every year, but is always too busy rebuilding to make a serious run.
They have their star in place with Paul Pierce, who may actually be in a worse situation than that of KG or Bosh because at least people talk about how bad their problems are and give them attention. After Pierce, the C’s are riddled with question marks. Jefferson is healthy right now, but you have to wonder how long his little reign of dominance over the past 5 games will last. He’s had streaks like this before, but has never been able to sustain it for very long before an injury or some other circumstance messes it up.
Szczerbiak is a good shooter, but he’s injured right now and has had knee problems for a while. The rest of the team is young and streaky, keeping the Celtics from really putting together any sort of season long run.
So far their season has gone like this: lose 6 of their first 7, win 3, lose 7 of 8, win 5. And there’s no sign, looking at player performances and recent history that they will get any better than this. Until Boston either brings in some good veterans to help guide the team, or they start to gel together like we’ve been promised since the beginning of the Ainge era, we’ll have to continue riding the roller coaster and popping anti-depressants as we watch our boys bounce around the Atlantic Division standings like Dick Vitale on cocaine.