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Are the Celtics Tough Enough for the Magic?

The Celtics theme this season is ‘Reloaded’.

I guess that would make the Orlando Magic ‘revised and reloaded’. The team coming to Boston this evening for a rematch of last season’s playoffs has been the poster team for that.

The Orlando Magic and Boston have identical records at 9-3. The Magic are on a 3 game winning streak and in second place to the hot Atlanta Hawks in the Central Division.

The Celtics are still trying to find their rhythm on both ends of the court. Their record belies the fact that they are still working things out.

They are going through periods of lackluster play. Led by Paul Pierce’s 18.4 points, Rondo’s 9 assists and Kevin Garnett’s 7.3 rebounds, the Celtics are on target for a 60 win season. But if the playoffs started tomorrow, the Celtics would be a team with issues of inconsistency, and I am not really sure why.

Though remaining second best in points allowed, the Celtics are playing inexplicably pedestrian defense lately. They have work to do to be considered in the conversation for the best defensive team ever. The offense is lethargic at times as well.

As a team, they are getting to free throw line less often and are among the league’s worst (26th) in attempts this season.  After struggling for a while with rebounding, the Cs are back to where they were last season in rebounding differential (2nd) with a healthy +4.5.

The Celtics are the second most accurate shooters in the NBA at 48.6%. They are the most accurate in the NBA from the three point line at 39.7%.

The Celtics play a methodical offensive pace (25th in the NBA), and only fast break when the opportunity really presents itself.

The Magic changed 2/5ths of their starting line up in the course of adding Vince Carter, Ryan Anderson, Brandon Bass, Matt Barnes, Jason Williams.

They gave up Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee and Tony Battie in trade with the Nets for VC and Ryan Anderson. Hedo Turkoglu signed as a free agent with the Raptors.

With PG Jameer Nelson out again with injury, unretired Jason Williams is getting the starting nod over Anthony Johnson.

SF Rashard Lewis is back and starting after his 10 game suspension. He almost had a triple double in the last game, against the OKC Thunder, with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists.

Orlando is led by Dwight Howard with 18.1 points and 10.7 rebounds. Vince Carter is second with 17.1 points. The surprise is 6’ 10” Ryan Anderson, viewed as a throw in on the Vince Carter trade. He is third on the Magic in scoring with 14.3 points. That will change with the returning Lewis getting some of Ryan’s minutes.

Like last season, the Magic are second in three point attempts and second in makes. They play an outside/in game. Carter is shooting a career high 43.8% from the three point line this season.

Kendrick Perkins raised his status around the league with his defense of Dwight Howard in the playoffs last season, while Howard was exposed for his rudimentary offensive game (read: no go to move).

This Magic team gives the Celtics more trouble than most any other team in the NBA and have a winning record against the Celtics since the Garnett trade to prove it.

This will be a good test for a Celtic team that apparently has trouble getting up for lesser teams. They better be up for this game or they will be adding another loss to their record.

Categories: General
Thomas Halzack

2 Responses

  1. Thomas Halzack says:

    Great post, Mauricio.

    There is a lot there to digest. Agree that something is wrong right now. Their record is deceptively optimistic.

    Either there are internal problems we are unaware of, or they just haven’t been able to get their motors running.

    The fear of a Detroit style ‘cool calm laid back’ approach, as you infer, is dangerous.

    A look at the offensive schemes is in order. Doc has let them play without many plays for too long, it seems time to increase the play book…and use it.

    But, as I mention in the recap, they are just missing wide open shots as well. No play book will cure that.

    As you suggest, better to go through this now and figure out how to get it fixed, than have to deal with it all later.


  2. Mauricio (aka mev17) says:

    So much for revenge — or the notion that having KG back would make us better than Orlando.

    We have only two wins so far against teams above .500, including the 6-5 Bulls. We are 2-3 overall against teams with a winning record, having lost our last three in a row. If it wasn’t for all the bad teams on our schedule so far, our record would be terrible. And we have lost 3 of our last 5 at home, something that would have been unthinkable from the 2008 team we are allegedly better than.

    Even after taking time to cool-off, I am irritated at how poorly we are playing. We are not remotely a championship caliber team, and the fact we have some new faces is no excuse, Orlando has new faces and is missing its star point guard. We simply do not play good basketball anymore. We are inconsistent at best and plain STUPID at worst. That turnover by Ray Allen was embarrassing, and the dumb shot by Pierce on the next possession was almost as bad. A championship experienced team should know how to execute and get good shots, especially since our starters (and Eddie House) are on their third year together.

    The only consolation is that it is only November — I can only hope this will be the mirror image of last year, which started out impressively but ended poorly. But to turn it around, each player has to go back to the drawing board and re-think their role on the team, and the coach needs to re-visit our offensive and defensive schemes. Either they are flawed or our players have forgotten how to execute. And frankly, there is no excuse for that. This is more than a hiccup — something is seriously flawed with this team, and a trade to add another weapon sounds awfully good right now.

    As negative as I sound, this is mild compared to how I felt an hour ago. All I know is that our problems won’t just fix themselves over time. If this team tries too hard “not to panic” they may never straighten themselves out. Like the Yankees in baseball this year, it is either championship or bust with this team — and our current level of play is simply not acceptable, and patience IMO is not the answer. Other teams have changed their rosters and are playing better than we are — such as Orlando, Phoenix and Dallas. There is much work to do if we are going to come close to competing for a championship.