Are the Boston Celtics too old? Get used to that question folks. It’s going to be asked a whole lot this season. (CBSSports)
Let me take you back to a year ago. The Celtics began the season trying to regain their pride after a loss to the then-surprising Magic in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. And to be honest? They didn’t look very convincing, even on their winning streak as they cruised to the division title. In key games, Garnett looked slow. They lost to a Kobe buzzer-beater. Even when they later got revenge for that game, it seemed to set a tone. And that was before the second half, where they looked terrible. Every Boston fan on the planet will tell you that it was just a lack of resolve, a sense of boredom, and that those games simply didn’t matter to them, so their effort wasn’t there. That’s probably partially true. It’s also partially true that even bored the Celtics should have beaten the Nets and beaten them easily in every game they played. There were problems for Boston. Tons of them. Most notably, they were swept by the Hawks, and each time it was a late run by the Hawks featuring the transition game that did them in. The Celtics simply couldn’t run with them. Everyone put a plug in them, except their fans, a handful of media, and Nate Jones. [...]
That was last year. The Celtics are now a year older. Ray Allen is 35, Garnett 34, Pierce 33. They added two centers who long ago left the comfort of 30. Rajon Rondo is still young and chipper, alongside Glen Davis and Nate Robinson. But they put on a lot of miles the last two years, which will add to the fatigue factor. [...]
I was ready to shut the door on the Celtics last year, and they slammed it back in my face, walked in, made themselves a sandwich and tracked mud on my carpet. I’m not willing to bury the Celtics until the heart’s stopped beating. Age can be cruel, but for the Celtics, it’s a beast they can live with. They remain contenders to the ring until that last breath gives out.
I’ve got to be honest. I thought the C’s window of opportunity had closed with the end of The Game That Must Not Be Named. I thought they had little chance to do it all again, to fool Father Time into allowing another unexpected playoff run. The Celtics were already old and fragile last season, then added another year to their ages and compound that problem with the short offseason that follows a Finals run. I worried that the window was shut, locked and boarded shut, unless Rajon Rondo took the leap from All-Star to superstar. Which at the very least remains a possibility.
Then a funny thing happened — the Celtics got older. (Shit.) But they also got deeper, bigger, and more experienced. (Nice!) Suddenly, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett’s slippage didn’t seem to matter as much. Suddenly, Rondo’s offseason ratings increase (video game reference) didn’t either. The bench, loaded at every position (unless Marquis Daniels reverts to ’09-’10 form again), should make up for any age-related slippage. Semih Erden was the sixth man for the world’s second-best team, but in Boston he’ll be the fourth-string center. Depth, I say.
So the window still remains open. It might be the Celtics’ last shot, but they’ve got one more run left in those old, creaky bones. But please, Celtics, show more effort during the regular season. I’m too young to be getting a heart attack.