We’ve reached the end of the regular season, so the writers of Celtics Town would like to take a minute to discuss the impending postseason in roundtable format with a few pertinent questions.
Click on the names to follow the writers on Twitter (and follow our fearless leader Jay @CelticsTown as well), and feel free to leave your answers to these questions in the comments below!
1. What do you find most encouraging entering the postseason?
Jordan: Jeff Green has grown exponentially over the course of the season. Green has gone from being an untradable player with an abysmal contract to one of the more reliable Celtics. Green hasn’t lived up to his contract just yet (which should only be a matter of time if he keeps trending in the right direction), but he’s come a long way since his early struggles. Also Bass seems to finally put it together in the last month or so, though we’ll see if he’s up to the challenge of guarding Carmelo.
Jesse: Their relative depth and different possible scoring options all have me in a controlled optimistic mind state heading into Saturday’s game. The Celtics have the typical options in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to work their offense through, but Jeff Green can also create offense, along with the less reliable Terrence Williams and Jordan Crawford. The point being—Boston’s offense often times lacks a serious spark and can tend to over-pass and be flat out ugly to watch, now we can at least watch Crawford huck up some floaters in the lane and if we are lucky they might be semi-open looks.
Tom: Watching Paul Pierce and Jeff Green learn to work together has been my favorite part of this season. Their development has been good and bad: Good because it’s great to see two talented players learn how to work in tandem and bad because, due to injuries, they are quite possibly the only players who actually developed any kind of real chemistry on the court throughout the season. Still, this is the positive section, and the fact that Boston’s two best wings have learned how to work together is undeniably a good thing.
2. What do you find most discouraging entering the postseason?
Jordan: That this team went from having a punchers chance at a title in the preseason to trying to play spoiler in the first round. The Celtics are banged up (including the mystery of KG’s health) and trending in the wrong direction. And once again it’s possible that Garnett and Pierce might retire (or go elsewhere in the case of Pierce) following the derailment of the Celtics efforts to reload with the Rondo injury. This feels more like a lost season than a repeat of 2010 and that’s a bummer for a team with such high aspirations entering the season.
Jesse: This is entirely idealistic, but I really wish the Celtics could enter into battle with their best team healthy and on the floor. Injuries are understandably part of the game, but for basketball’s sake I wish Kobe Bryant was healthy, I wish Rondo and Sullinger (and shoot, I’ll throw in Barbosa too) were around to face the Knicks. Every NBA fan wants to see each team at their best come playoff time, it tears my heart out knowing Rondo and Sully will be watching these games in their finest suits from the sidelines. Again, I know I am living in fantasy land, but hey that is the nature of end-of-season roundtables.
Tom: Before this season, I REALLY believed Boston was, on paper, a darkhorse contender for the title. Sure, the Lakers had a super-lineup and the Thunder and Heat were still both things, but Boston had all the pieces and a deep, deep bench. Why couldn’t they make a run for the title?
Well, rebounding for starters. Injuries for seconds. Bad luck for thirds. Now here we are.
3. How far will the Celtics go?
Jordan: I think the Celtics lose in the first round. No matter how ho-hum his regular season performance may be at times, Rondo is too dynamic a postseason player to be easily replaced. Garnetts defense is the key to any chance the Celtics have of making a run, and even if he actually is healthy I’m not sure if it’ll be sustainable. This team is the 7th seed for a reason and it is not 2010. I hope the Celtics prove me wrong, and if they do I think their ceiling is an ECF rematch with the Miami Heat, but I don’t see it.
Jesse: The Celtics lose in the first round. There I said it. Yes—this is my typical move of managing expectations by setting the bar low, and allowing myself to be pleasantly surprised. The C’s show some fight, lose two games in blowouts, win two games in blowouts, and lose two close ones due to Melo and J.R. going off in the fourth quarter, with some timely Kidd three-pointers. It is what is anticipated so why not manage my post season hangover with reasonable expectations heading into the second season.
Tom: NSFW for language, but here’s my take on this season and the playoffs in general.
THE ABOVE BEING SAID, I’m going to be optimistic and say the Celtics make it to the Eastern Conference Finals where, once again, they are turned back by the Heat in seven. I do not have a good reason for making this prediction.
You know, other than the fact that I’m stupid.
4. Who will win the Boston/New York series and in how many games?
Jordan: I have the Knicks winning in seven. When I glanced over the stats it actually felt like Knicks in six, but I spotted the Celtics an extra game because of their veteran grit and Pierce’s affinity for Madison Square Garden. The Celtics have been a terrible road team this year and thats weighed heavily into my series prediction, especially since I think NYK can win in Boston. I don’t see the Celtics being able to steal enough games in NYK to pull this out, but anything between Knicks in five and Celtics in seven wouldn’t surprise me.
Jesse: 4-2 Celtics lose in six games.
Tom: I’ll take the Celtics in seven, with Game 7 being an instant classic battle between Paul Pierce and Carmelo Anthony.
5. How many flagrant fouls/technicals do you anticipate?
Jordan: I’m going to go with four techs and no flagrants. Some bark but no bite.
Jesse: I will go with a safe two flagrant fouls for the series—one from Tyson Chandler and the other from Courtney Lee, admittedly going for the long shot with Lee. Technical fouls will be a little more interesting, is Rasheed Wallace allowed to be on the bench during this series? If yes—five techs, if no—two techs.
Tom: I’m going all out: four flagrant fouls (it has to be an even number because each team will need revenge) and 10 technicals because the officials will be trying to prevent any more flagrant fouls.