The similarities are eerie.
Last year, at this time, the Boston Celtics were 23-5. They were coming off a Christmas Day showdown with the Orlando Magic, and everyone in the Eastern Conference bowed down to the Big Green. (Which is also the name of a superb children’s flick, but I digress.)
Sound similar? I thought so, too. But do the Celtics expect a repeat performance? Not exactly. (Boston Herald)
“We ain’t even thinking about that,” said Paul Pierce. “This is a different team. I think injuries bit us really hard last year. I think me not being healthy for the majority of the season after Christmas, it made for inconsistent basketball.”
Echoed Rajon Rondo, “I’m not concerned. It’s no big deal. It’s another year, a different team.”
Still, there is some cause for concern. Doc Rivers sees some slippage, and he feels the Celtics are winning but not improving. Of course, part of that is missing their best player due to injury, but still.
“We were just watching film, and clearly we could have played a lot better on Christmas Day,” he said. “But that happens. It gives us a good teaching session.
“You know, sometimes you can be winning games but not improving, and that’s one of the things we talked about. Yeah, we’re winning, but the key is to win and improve. And right now we’re just winning.
“You can’t get away from your principles, and really I think we’ve done that,” Rivers said. “We’ve been lucky enough to win a lot of the games in this stretch, and the Orlando game, it was a teaching clinic on principles that we usually do that we didn’t do. But when you start winning, you get that false sense that we can get away with it.”
Are the Celtics prepped for a 27-27 slide to end the season, a la last year? Probably not. They are deeper now than they were last season, and Pierce’s and KG’s health — while not promised tomorrow — provide cause for optimism. Still, it’s best if the C’s end the slippage now, and start improving again. I don’t think I can handle another three or four months of .500 ball. The Celtics almost killed me last season, and I say that without any hint of exaggeration.
Here’s to getting back on the winning track tonight, against the Pacers hailing from Indiana.