Ramble On Sports

Where sports, pop culture and everything else collide.

Meet the new Celtics…same as the old Celtics?

Posted by Bill Koch on April 17, 2010

Rasheed Wallace

Time to put up or shut up for the Boston Celtics.

We’ve had to watch them dog it for the last four months after their 24-5 start. We’ve had to suffer through them treating the regular season like some extended form of exhibition basketball. We’ve had them remind us why, in the opinion of those of us here at Ramble On, college basketball will always be the better of the two choices.

This team is just hard to like, and it doesn’t stop with Rasheed Wallace. Kendrick Perkins is still his moody, brooding, technical foul-drawing self. Rajon Rondo fires up random 19-footers and looks confused as to why they don’t go in. A clue, Rajon – you’re a terrible shooter. Paul Pierce is getting old right in front of our eyes. Kevin Garnett is already there waiting for Pierce on at least the 17th hole, and Ray Allen has already played through.

But enough about the team’s character, which is suspect at best and bears no resemblance to the group who took home Banner 17. Boston didn’t work hard on defense in the regular season, often coming up short on its rotations, and its promise to improve its effort when the games count has to start here. The Celtics will have their hands full trying to stop Dwyane Wade and Co. from getting to the rim, and that will be the key to the series.

It might sound too simple to blame Wallace for Boston’s offensive struggles. Some people might think it’s too easy to point to Wallace’s misfiring from 3-point range, his refusal to go into the paint and his general ball-stopping on the perimeter. Unfortunately for Rasheed, the numbers posted on 82games.com are particularly damning. Boston was plus-299 with Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Garnett and Perkins on the floor. They’re minus-9 when you take out Garnett and put in Wallace. They’re minus-16 when you take out Perkins and put in Wallace. That first unit shoots 53.0 percent – it drops to 47.4 percent when Wallace comes in for Garnett and 42.9 percent when Wallace comes in for Perkins. Think Doc Rivers, who already has one foot out the door, knows this?

None of this is meant to make Boston’s playoff prospects sound grim. The Celtics have promised that they’ll be a different team now that there’s another title on the line. The problem for them is that the regular season is the only evidence we have to use on their behalf or against them. Are we really supposed to believe, after four months of deception and stealing our time and attention, that they’re telling the truth now?

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