After a slew of off-season signings, the Boston Celtics looked to have the potential to be a very deep, balanced and dynamic team, one that could withstand (reasonable) injuries with a “next man up” formula. While the balance may still be there on some levels, the roster is now down to three guards, three forwards and three centers.
The Celtics, as an organization, have to decide what moves to make to finish out the year. Whether it’s making a move to still contend this season, or taking a step backwards to develop younger players and come back stronger next season, the options are about as limited as they get.
The Celtics are realistically down to an eight man rotation. They have a viable starting five in Courtney Lee, Avery Bradley, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett. Their biggest bench contributors remain Jeff Green and Jason Terry. The best of their three big men to fill in the front line behind Garnett is by far Chris Wilcox, yet he still never seems fully healthy or in proper basketball-rhythm although he has been getting a larger minute load as of late. Fab Melo is nowhere near ready for even glimpses of big league minutes and Jason Collins is nothing more than a big warm body.
While the first eight in the rotation is a nice consolidated group, the Celtics are now desperate for depth. After the loss of Leandro Barbosa, who now joins the Celtic’s ‘done for the year club’ along with rookie sensation Jared Sullinger and All-Star point guard and minutes leader Rajon Rondo, the total work-load that must be made up prer game consists of exactly: 69.7 minutes per game, 24.9 points per game, 11.4 rebounds per game, 13.3 assists per game, not to mention a block here and a hustle play/steal there. It’s a large void in production that these three key players leave to be made up by committee on the floor.
The one positive that can be mentioned as of late is the improved play of Green, Terry and to a lesser extent Wilcox. This is the bench meat that the Celtics are left with after losing Barbosa’s reliable instant offense and Sullinger’s presence on the glass. Green’s impact still remains the most important to come from the Celtics’ bench. His production, when it is in large enough form, allows Pierce to rest and gives the Celtics an athletic punch and scoring option that they have been longing for in recent years.
Lately, Green has been showing consistent sixth man effort and his importance in the rotation is increasing by the day. He has been more than reliable in the clutch and nine nights out of 10, there is a match-up on the floor that he will own because of his size and versatility.
Aside from being in need of a relevant big man, a back-up ball handler and a time machine, the Celtics are in great shape to compete down the stretch. The streak is over and more change is coming. The Celtics remain a team that can hang with the best as well as the worst, which is a strange make-up, to say the least.