Monday, January 28, 2008

Without KG, Celtics lose some Magic

The Celtics suffered their eighth loss of the season on National TV yesterday. This was their second loss to the Orlando Magic this year and the Celts' 5th loss in the the last 10 games but it wasn't necessarily a 'bad' loss. Even though the Celts were out of synch and Ray Allen shot poorly throughout the game, it still took a long distance 3-pointer from Hedo Turkoglu for Orlando to beat the Celts at the buzzer 96-93. However, the way the Celts have been playing lately and with KG out with a pulled stomach muscle, it could have been worse.

As the Celtics wind through January and the 'dog days' of the NBA schedule, it is evident that the team is struggling a bit. Without KG in the line-up, the low post defense suffers and Kendrick Perkins is not as effective on the offensive end. Rajon Rondo is not 100% and it looks as though all the minutes he's logged already this year has taken a toll on his small frame. He doesn't seem to take it to the rim as much and rarely finishes off with a basket when he does. Also, when Rondo is out, it falls on Paul Pierce to move the ball which takes away from his shooting consistency. Ray Allen is quietly having his worst year of shooting from both the field and the 3-point arch. Leon Powe and Glen Davis have been a pleasant surprise but their contributions have been sporadic and Scott Pollard has yet to log significant minutes.

The Celtics have had a great year thus far but will need to fix some of these shortcomings in order to compete with the teams like Cleveland, Detroit, Dallas, and San Antonio down the stretch. They currently have two open roster spots but who (or what) do you trade for a veteran point guard and/or low post player? Everyone on the Celtics bench has contributed this year and is either too valuable to the Celtics or not valuable enough to another team. On top of that, the Celts already traded many of their future draft choices and disposable salary to the Timberwolves for Kevin Garnett. I still feel Sam Cassell would be a great asset to this team, but it doesn't look like the LA Clippers will buy him out of his contract and I'm not sure if Damon Stoudemire is the answer although he's available now that the Memphis Grizzlies freed him up.

It is much easier to tweak a team than to change it, so as the February 22nd NBA Trade deadline gets closer and the Celts' weaknesses become more apparent, it will be interesting to see what GM Danny Ainge can or will do to reinforce the team.

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