If you are like any other Celtic fan I know, you’ve been worried to death over the Celtics’ recent play. You’ve been wondering when (if?) the team is finally going to gel, and whether Boston is really as bad as it’s looked recently. (Can they possibly be that bad?) If you’re like me, you’ve likely needed to ingest (at least) a few beers to ease your mind after each game over the past couple weeks.
Everywhere I look, a new blogger or columnist is writing about the Celtics’ struggles. Chris Sheridan examined the C’s problems in depth. (And I replied). Jeff Clark from over at Celticsblog felt compelled to address trading Ray Allen, as if some people have already given up on this young season. (And I didn’t reply, though for some reason it actually makes sense that some people have given up on a 10-4 team. That’s how poorly the C’s have looked recently, even in their wins.)
People are down on the Celtics, but there are still some things to be thankful for. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, and dread and worry spreading like the Swine Flu through Celtics nation, I think it’s time to take a look on the bright side, and discuss everything that should still bring a smile to your face. So sit back, dream of turkey, gravy and stuffing, and be prepared to have your spirits lifted…
The C’s couldn’t possibly shoot any worse
The Celtics have hit rock bottom from the three-point arc, ladies and gentlemen. In case you think Rasheed Wallace can stay mired in his slump forever, check out Rasheed’s percentages from downtown over the past four seasons: 35.7%, 35.1%, 35.6%, 35.4%. If those percentages don’t scream consistency, then I don’t know what does — ‘Sheed will right the ship; it’s just a matter of time.
And all those other Celtics shooting like blind geese from behind the arc? Well, they’re pretty good shooters, too. Ray Allen (30.4% this season) has never hit less than 37.2% in a full season. And Eddie House? It may seem like he’s been cold, but House is actually shooting over 40% from threes. Which, in case you’re basketball illiterate, is pretty damn good.
Tony Allen has yet to play a single game this season
Should I say any more? Do I even need to go into why everyone should be ecstatic that this statement is true? In other news…
The Tony Allen era is likely over following this season
Allen’s contract is mercifully done at the end of this season. As soon as Allen plays his final game as a Celtic — assuming he hasn’t already — you will probably see a strange-looking man outside your window, drinking champagne and doing cartwheels for hours on end. No need to be alarmed — That man will be me, celebrating not Tony’s career, but the end of Tony’s career.
The maturation of the young guys
I’m looking at you, Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins. Rondo still doesn’t have a jumpshot (or a free throw, for that matter), but he can change games and win games with his speed, court vision, and tenacity. Perk, meanwhile, has slowly but surely proved himself to be one of the more reliable, defensive-minded centers in the NBA, and isn’t so much of a slouch anymore when it comes to putting the ball in the basket. Even when the Big Three are done with their careers, the Celtics will be in good hands with these two.
Marquis Daniels fits right in
When the season started, I wasn’t sure what the Celtics had in Daniels. I knew he put up decent stats for Indiana last year, but I also knew Tony Allen had at one point in his career posted decent stats. WIth that said, Daniels has been a pleasant surprise to me; his stats are back down (as is only natural for a player with a far more limited role), but he does all the little things to help a team win games. Daniels attacks the hoop, finishes very well, defends the other team’s best wing, and has a very high basketball I.Q. Simply put, the guy’s a winner.
Glen Davis will be back soon
Remember him? The player who spent all offseason doing MMA-style training, claiming it was to get him in shape when really it was so he could beat the hell out of his visiting friend. Okay, maybe it really was to get himself in shape, and maybe Davis did more damage to himself than to his friend, but his broken thumb is just about healed. According to today’s Herald, Davis will be ready for action in the early part of December, and he will bring a much-needed spark and some scoring punch to the Celtics lineup.
The Celtics are one game away from the East’s top seed
That doesn’t seem right to you? Maybe it’s because you, like the rest of us Boston fans, have been too busy fretting about the C’s close wins and bad losses. Anyway, the Hawks and Magic are the only two teams in the East with a better record than Boston, and both teams are only ahead of Boston by a single game. Start smiling!
The Celtics are #1 in scoring differential
Not just in the Atlantic Division, or the Eastern Conference, or even in the group of teams struggling mightily over their last two weeks. Nope, the C’s have the best scoring differential in the entire NBA. And in case you didn’t know, scoring differential is normally the most indicative stat of how a team fares in the playoffs. Smiling yet?
Boston still has the Big Three
Last year, the Big Three was down to the Big Two. Two years before that, it was the Lone Ranger, Paul Pierce, and his bumbling, inexperienced teammates. This year? The Celtics still. Have. The. Big. Three. And, beyond anything else, that’s why you should be happy. Kevin Garnett may still hobble around on occasion, and he might look bad at times (like the first 52 minutes and 52 seconds of the Knicks game), but he’s still Kevin Garnett, and he’s still wearing green. Paul Pierce looks spry this season and prepared to have a nice year, and Ray-Ray will turn things around and become the fire-thrower we’re used to.
See, there’s still a lot to be happy with when it comes to the Celtics. At times this season, they have looked bad, they’ve looked unengaged, they’ve looked old, and they’ve looked, well, bad. But they still have a hell of a nucleus, and they still have surrounding players who know their role and perform their job well. When the C’s finally weather the storm of this early-season slump, they will still have all the pieces to make a great playoff run.
Smile, damn it!