The Celtics won’t have much time to breathe during the next week. (Boston Globe)
With yesterday’s win over the Raptors, the Celtics started a stretch of five games in seven days, a difficult stretch for a team reeling from injuries.
“It’s rough,” said Jermaine O’Neal. “It’s rough. We were just talking about it. Guys are sore. It’s not even this week. It’s almost a mirror image for the next two weeks. Every other day for the next two weeks, and that’s rough for a team that’s banged up. But we’re going to have to take really good care of our bodies, get a lot of rest and help each other.”
When I played basketball, I used to kill for games on successive nights. Hell, a lot of the time I’d play multiple games on the same day. I played for three or four different teams every season, and I played three games a day on AAU weekends. I loved it, and I never got tired. Games were always fun. It was practice that was a chore, practice that was a drag to get through, practice that absolutely sucked.
But these Celtics aren’t teenagers with boundless energy and young legs. They’re old, and — beyond that — they’re banged-up. Their bodies need as much rest as physically possible, and this five-games-in-seven-nights stretch is the worst medicine I could think of.
The only saving graces are these: the next three games are all at home, and two of those home games are against the Timberwolves (tonight) and the Raptors (Friday). The other two games are against San Antonio and at Chicago, but — hey — not every brutally busy stretch of schedule can be perfect.
Doc Rivers deals with every player on his team differently. (CSNNE)
“Doc has a different relationship with everybody on the team,” Pierce said. “It’s not going to be the same, because you have so many strong personalities on this team. He knows how to handle it well. [Rivers and Davis] talking is a little different from me and him talking. But they understand each other at the end of the day, and that’s what’s most important.”
Said Rivers: “I tell them, there’s going to be days you love me. There’s going to be days you hate me, and vice versa. But we get over it. We’re still a family the next day, and we just move on.”
One of the most underrated aspects of a good coach is the ability to treat each individual the way he needs to be treated. Some players need a good kick in the ass to get going. Other players need to be praised, or lightly nurtured. People have different personalities, and should be dealt with differently. Good coaches realize that, and treat each player the way he needs to be treated.
I remember a story from Bill Russell’s book, Red and Me. Late in his career, Russell hardly practiced at all. He wasn’t hurt, and he wasn’t sick. He just sat in the stands, reading his newspaper and drinking tea, while his teammates practiced. Red Auerbach wasn’t just giving Russell preferential treatment. Russell played 40 minutes per game every game, and needed his rest. He already knew everything the Celtics did, and so it’s not like he needed practice to learn new sets or to understand defensive schemes. Hell, Russell WAS a defensive scheme, all by himself. So Auerbach let him sit in the stands and get his rest, while the rest of the team practiced. Some people might look at it like Auerbach was playing favorites, but he was simply treating Russell as he needed to be treated.
Like Auerbach, Rivers understands how to deal with his players. He shows his players respect, and in return receives respect back. But he treats each player differently, and, for the Celtics, that’s a very good thing.
Rich Levine shares my own fears: maybe Kevin Garnett’s injury wasn’t actually as minor as people think. (CSNNE)
So far, I get the sense that a lot of people breathed a huge sigh of relief after the Celtics prognosis. It feel like the majority are comfortable with the 2-3 weeks (especially relative to an entire season), and feel that the calf should heel, the knee will be fine and we’ll see him in the middle of January. They think the Celtics just dodged a huge bullet. And that’s fine.
But I think the bullet nicked them. And we have to wait and see what happens next.
That’s not to say I think the Celtics are lying. It seems like you can’t have questions about KG’s leg without someone inferring that you think the team is intentionally giving out false information. I personally don’t think they are.
In fact, in spite of all the craziness of the 2009 season, I don’t think they lied then either. I think they genuinely believed all along that Garnett would improve enough to play — first, by mid-March, and then by the playoffs. No one realized how bad the bone spurs were and how much they were affecting his recovery.
Maybe they kept things a little more secretive when it came time for the actual surgery. There are still certain things from the procedure that are unclear. But when it came to the last few months of the lost season, I think the Celtics were just trying to find away to get KG back on the court, and were maybe even a little too honest.
So, when I look at this story, I’m not skeptical about lies. I’m just concerned that, so far, 2011 truth is so similar to 2009.
You have to admit, KG’s injury is incredibly similar to the one he underwent in 2009. They both A) looked the exact same, B) inspired a very similar (and devastated) reaction from KG, and C) even shared the same diagnosis.
Is this to say I’m convinced KG’s injury is worse than the Celtics are letting on? No, not at all. It very well could be a normal calf strain, and KG could return in another week or two, and he could be fully healthy. But I’m not going to stop worrying until I see him back on the court, controlling both ends of the game.
Ben Rohrbach did some nice research about how the Celtics have fared without certain stars. His results might surprise. (WEEI)
- Paul Pierce … With: 195-69 (.739); Without: 8-6 (.571)
Winning percentage discrepancy: .168
- Rajon Rondo … With: 191-68 (.738); Without: 12-7 (.632)
Winning percentage discrepancy: .106
- Kevin Garnett … With: 169-58 (.745); Without: 34-17 (.667)
Winning percentage discrepancy: .078
- Ray Allen … With: 192-72 (.727); Without: 11-3 (.786)
Winning percentage discrepancy: –.059
- Kendrick Perkins … With: 167-65 (.720); Without: 36-10 (.783)
Winning percentage discrepancy: –.063