Boston Celtics Playoff Hopes Are in Serious Jeopardy
The Boston Celtics have run into some bad luck lately to say the least.
It was just Jan. 27, when the Celtics became aware that All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo was out for the year due to an ACL tear he suffered against the Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 25. Now, the Celtics discovered that they have lost rookie forward Jared Sullinger to season ending back surgery today.
Remarkably, the Celtics managed to beat the Orlando Magic this evening, 97-84. That gives the Celtics a 3-0 record without Rondo and a 1-0 start without Sullinger. Still this trend can’t continue. Can it? To prepare for the loss of Sullinger, who was averaging 6.0 points, 5.9 rebounds in 19.8 minutes, while shooting 49.3 percent from the field, Boston recalled Fab Melo from their NBADL, the Maine Red Claws.
Melo, the Celtics other number one pick from last year’s draft, has been somewhat of a disappointment from a contribution standpoint so far. Melo definitely has his chance to redeem himself with the Celtics and prove his worth on a more long term basis. Melo did play against the Magic tonight and registered a steal in just three minutes of play.
Hardly impactful, but it is a start. However, those minutes are not the type of minutes that will help Garnett or Bass keep their legs fresh down the stretch. Maybe General Manager Danny Ainge will make a trade to improve and stabilize the Boston frontline. The Celtics could use some size in the half court, which will allow the Celtics to rebound better and possibly get some extra possessions on the offensive glass.
Without Rondo getting out in transition, the Celtics will most likely play at a slower tempo to utilize their older stars, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in the half court. The Celtics improved to .500 (23-23) with the win against Orlando and are now three games up on the Philadelphia 76ers for the last playoff spot. However, lead is safe for the Celtics at this point. They are still playing on emotion right now, but once that wears off and this new reality sets in, Boston will have to settle in without Rondo or Sullinger and develop a rotation to prepare for the stretch run.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, they have no cushion in the standings to build chemistry with any new players added and the minutes that Pierce and Garnett will undoubtedly have to log, will doom Boston even if they do make the playoffs. However, maybe Ainge can trade for another leprechaun because obviously their current one has not spotted any pot of gold or four-leafed clover this season.
If Ainge finds a leprechaun that can bring the “Celtic Mystique” back, he should be able to play defense and rebound too. Those qualities certainly would not hurt the Celtics’ chances to make the playoffs.
Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo