The Miami Heat proved that youth, supreme athleticism and the ability to launch lethal offensive strikes reminiscent of a Navy Seal Team Six were the essential ingredients to knock off the former bully of the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics. With two minutes remaining in a scintillating Game 5, the Miami Heat scored the last 16 points punctuated by LeBron James closing out the series-clincher, with 10 thunderous points, providing Miami’s Big Three with a 97-87 victory.
Miami’s Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are in the prime of their athletic careers. Boston’s Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are battling through the vagaries of time and age, and are living testaments that sometimes experience and sheer know-how are no match for an athletically superior opponent.
Celtics fans experiencing a Game 5 hangover of disappointment, resentment and anti-Heat hatred should celebrate the fact that their team played to the last minute – unlike Phil and Kobe’s Los Angeles Lakers. Celtics fans saw that a dislocated elbow and a balky back could not stop Rajon Rondo’s will to win. The city of Boston witnessed big men Jermaine O’Neal (back) and Shaquille O’Neal (calf) attempt to turn back the wear-and-tear of NBA post play, and give the Celtics a few good minutes each game.
The NBA is a 30-team league, where at the end of June, one team will lay claim to the title of world champion. The Celtics’ Big Three and Rondo have relentlessly pursued that goal for four years, and we are now witnessing a team that could be at the end of that quest. With Boston’s Big Three fighting to stave off the Heat and Father Time, will we see this same nucleus come back for the 2011-12 season?
With the NBA facing a potential lockout and potentially dramatic alterations to the collective bargaining agreement, the future is a tad murky, but there are real questions facing Celtics President Danny Ainge.
Should Celtics President Danny Ainge blow up the Big Three and start the rebuilding process immediately?
Paul Pierce has earned the right to end his career in Boston – and with a salary cap figure of $15 million for 2012 – The Truth is going nowhere.
With a price tag of $21 million for the ’12 campaign, no team is looking to pick up Kevin Garnett.
That leaves Ray Allen, who holds a player option for ’12, and look for him to exercise it. Allen would be the logical choice to be used as trade bait, as he will make a paltry $10 million. Based on Ainge’s track record, he will examine all possible deals for Allen that would allow the Celtics to get younger, and more athletic, to compete versus the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls.
What is the Celtics most vital need?
When Joel Anthony is beating up on you, it’s time to look for some help in the paint.
The Celtics desperately need to find a low post scorer. With Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal battling various injuries for most of the season, the Celtics lacked a reliable scoring threat on the block. Boston’s early season success versus the Heat was a product of the Celtics dominating the paint, being a more cohesive unit, and Dwayne Wade being less than 100% after missing most of the preseason because of a child custody case in Chicago.
Most NBA teams are looking for a big man, who can post up, and provide offense from the paint. Kendrick Perkins doesn’t fit that description, but sometimes one can’t quantify intangibles and chemistry. We will never know if Kendrick Perkins was the big man that the C’s needed to overcome the Heat, but many Celtics fans will have green paint running down their faces believing that Perk was the missing link.
Jermaine O’Neal is signed next year for a little over $6 million. O’Neal proved he can still play, and right now appears to be Boston’s starting center in 2011-12. That can’t inspire much confidence in Celtics fans.
Nenad Krstic isn’t a low post scorer. Watching Doc’s diminishing confidence in his play, which was reflected in Krstic receiving two coach’s DNPs in Games 3 and 4 versus the Heat, he probably isn’t the answer.
Glen “Big Baby” Davis isn’t a low post scorer. Shorter than most of his opponents, Big Baby’s offensive game is either to face up and shoot the jumper or drive to the hole versus a slower defender. Davis is an unrestricted free agent, and don’t look for the C’s to offer him big cash after his disappearing act in the playoffs. Doc clearly lost faith in Big Baby.
Shaq is the definition of unreliable, but for $1.4 million, he is worth bringing back.
And pray that this much-needed big man can rebound. If the C’s can’t find a low post scorer, please find a guy with the surname of Windex.
Do the Celtics sign Jeff Green?
In the aftermath of the Perk deal, there was a shared consensus among the media and C’s fans, that the Celtics moved Perk because of salary cap implications. The Celtics placed a monetary value on Perkins that was significantly less than what Perk envisioned for his next contract.
Jeff Green for Kendrick Perkins was never about the money. The Celtics will have to pony up the cash to sign the 24-year-old Green, who is a restricted free agent. When the ink dries on Green’s new deal, which will be with the Celtics, Green will probably have signed for more cash than Perk’s four-year $34.8 million contract with Oklahoma City. Ainge must believe that Green is a better value for the money than what was offered by Perk.
Ainge has to sign Jeff Green. The Celtics need to get younger, and more athletic to compete against the Heat, and Green fits the description. Green displayed flashes against the Heat, and his further improvement is essential to Boston’s continued success, as Green is a player who can allow Doc Rivers to reduce Pierce and Allen’s minutes.
Does Rajon Rondo Need A Consistent Jump Shot?
Rajon Rondo will never have a consistent jump shot, and it doesn’t matter how many hours he spends in the gym hoisting shot after shot. His technique is so radically flawed – Rondo shoots one-handed – that it’s doubtful whether he is ever going to be able to overhaul this part of his game.
That dovetails nicely with are great jump shooters born or made through hard work. The evidence seems to indicate a whole lot of both, and the perfect example of that would be Jason Kidd, who used to throw rocks at the backboard and has become a legitimate threat from behind the arc.
Rondo is unquestionably the catalyst that drives everything on the Celtics, but his offensive game is generated through his defense. When Rondo is able to increase the pace of the game, which accentuates his athletic skills, his offense is off the hook. Rondo is unstoppable in transition, but he sometimes becomes only an above average player when the game slows down, as his defender will slough off him on the offensive end.
Rondo’s Game 3 rub some dirt on that dislocated elbow performance versus the Heat is now the stuff of playoff legend. When Rondo came out to start the second half, after dislocating his left elbow, it was reminiscent of Larry Bird’s third quarter return to the hardwood, after striking his head on the Boston Garden’s parquet, in a 1991 first-round series-clinching Game 5 versus the Indiana Pacers.
Who is the real Kevin Garnett?
Years down the road, some kid who is now eight-years-old will be writing an entry for his or her 14.0 blog, and our future scribe will discover that Kevin Garnett scored 28 points in Boston’s 97-81 Game 3 win, and then submitted 7 points on 1-for-10 shooting in Boston’s 98-90 Game 4 OT loss.
Eventually this series will be described as the Heat earning a fairly easy 4-1 series win, but that won’t accurately reflect the true nature of this series, nor will we remember KG’s virtuoso Game 3 – because forever in Celtics lore – it will be known as the Rondo game.
Kevin Garnett has never been the same player since suffering his 2009 knee injury. At 35, KG has played nearly 44,000 regular season minutes and we will never see him be the beast he used to be. Garnett’s performances in games 3 and 4 are accurate reflections of what can be expected from the C’s emotional leader in the future. Some nights KG is going to be great, some nights he is going to be okay, and some nights Garnett is going to wish he never came to the arena – but he will always compete.
Can the 2011 NBA Draft help the Celtics?
Two names that immediately pop out are BYU’s Jimmer Fredette and Boston College’s Reggie Jackson. Fredette would provide the C’s with another 3-point shooter, which they desperately need. Jackson would give Doc’s squad much needed athleticism, and someone who could be a nuisance to D Wade on the defensive end. Neither player may drop down to the Celtics, but if either one does, look for Ainge to pull the trigger.
Do Celtics fans possess a greater hatred for the Lakers or the Heat?
Immediately after the Celtics beat the Lakers for the 2008 NBA championship, Boston sports media personality Michael Felger scored a quick impromptu street interview with Cambridge, Massachusetts-bred comedian Lenny Clarke, who issued these immortal words to celebrate Boston’s 17th banner.
“I guess this proves that god doesn’t like rapists.”
Celtics fans have a long and simmering hatred of the Lakers, which started well before Kobe Bryant burst onto the scene, but the Heat are now Enemy 1A.
Los Angeles and Miami are portrayed as celebrity-filled cities, where one can hang at a chill lounge surrounded by surgically-enhanced women who have breasts that defy the natural laws of gravity. Boston is portrayed, in Hollywood movies such as “The Town” and “Mystic River”, as the working class capital of the Free World. Boston cliché-ridden descriptions bear a sliver of truth, but there are probably sections of Miami and Los Angeles that are a lot tougher than any Boston neighborhood, but let’s not screw with stereotypes.
Boston’s Big Three are viewed as an organic NBA superstar trio, and the Heat’s Big Three are viewed as self-indulgent superstars destroying the natural world of NBA competition.
Boston has to feel inferior. There is no South Beach. Hollywood is perhaps the name of a defunct video rental store, and no one is moving to Boston for the SoCal laid-back lifestyle.
On principle alone, Celtics fans have to hate the Heat and the Lakers. This isn’t about only sports – this is about an ideology, a way of living that can be summed up in one word: MASSHOLE
If you are a Masshole, hating the Heat is like having a tonic with your spuckie.