The losses the Boston Celtics suffered this week have revealed the many holes on this roster. Thus far, the Celtics have played very well this season, and Brad Stevens has integrated a team-oriented approach to the game. Surprisingly, this team has been one of the best defensive teams in the league, and they find themselves on the top of the Atlantic division in a weak Eastern conference. However, with the Brooklyn Nets starting to live up to their potential and the eventual return of Tyson Chandler looming for the New York Knicks, Boston’s chances to secure the Atlantic division are slim. The weaknesses on the roster hold the Celtics back from being a legitimate threat in the East.
No True Center
The Celtics clearly lack height, and despite how well Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger have played defensively they are entirely outmatched when playing against a true big man. Against Brooklyn, Brook Lopez scored 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting and simply over-powered the Celtics’ “big men.” Kevin Garnett and Andray Blatche each shot at a high percentage and controlled the boards. Since the Celtics were not able to stop the bigs inside, the Nets’ perimeter game was opened up. Not being able to defend the best offensive centers results in an implosion in the Celtics’ defense. Boston needs a true big man in order solidify their promising defense. Omer Asik is an intriguing option or the Celtics can wait until the draft to obtain a center. However, there is no need to make desperate moves and possibly jeopardize the future of the core group of players on this team right now.
In the last two games, Boston’s bench has been outscored by 44 points. Against the Los Angeles Clippers the bench only conjured up with four total points. On the opposing side, the Clippers’ bench players, Darren Collison and Jamal Crawford, showed exactly what the Celtics need going forward — players who can provide significant sparks off the bench. Gerald Wallace does many little things but is not an offensive threat. Courtney Lee plays tough defense but does not make a huge impact with his scoring, and Phil Pressey will be a solid pro someday but he is too young and inexperienced this year. Although the Celtics have respectable pieces on their bench, it’s simply not enough. When Rajon Rondo returns, Jordan Crawford could be moved to a bench role and provide what the Celtics need. At only 25, Crawford may have the tools to potentially become a Jamal Crawford-type player off the bench. Kelly Olynyk’s return could provide a scoring spark as well.
Jordan Crawford has thrived in the point guard role, however, he will never be a true facilitator. He’s been terrific, but Crawford lacks the ability to create offense for his teammates on a consistent basis. Therefore, Jeff Green’s production suffers. When Rajon Rondo comes back this offense could essentially flourish. Rondo has the ability to make everyone around him better. He’s a true floor general and will create better opportunities for Green, Avery Bradley, Sullinger, Crawford, and others. Rondo will get the ball to the right players at critical moments. The Celtics suffer badly when the need for a bucket arises down the stretch; Rondo can change that.
The possibilities will be endless with Rajon Rondo back in the starting lineup. He allows Jordan Crawford to be the spark off the bench, Jeff Green will have more opportunities, and opposing teams will be confused defensively. The Celtics certainly need to address the center position, either this year or in the offseason, but for now the Celtics’ holes remain and could hold them back from being a viable threat in the East.