At the time of the writing of this blog, the Boston Celtics are 48-14 and they've clinched a spot in the playoff with 20 games left to go in the season. They Celtics have been hit by the injury bug which can be attributed to wear and tear following the grind of an 108 game season last year coupled with playing the most games of any other NBA franchise for the majority of this season. The Celtics had often played between 3-5 more games than their opponents for the majority of the season.
Tony Allen (right thumb surgery), Brian Scalabrine (post concussion syndrome) and Kevin Garnett (right knee strain) have all been missing for significant chunks of the season during the stretch run. The Celtics were waiting for Joe Smith to get a buyout and joint their ranks but he didn't push for a buyout until after the Celtics signed the recently waived Mikki Moore from Sacramento following the Sam Cassell trade. Then, after months of rumor, innuendo and speculation Stephon Marbury finally secured his buyout from the Knicks and signed with the Celtics to bolster their bench.
It will take a while for the team to develop a legitimate feel for each other and steady consistency but they've managed to win 2 out of the 3 games they've played together and dropped a game against the resurgent Detroit Pistons due to key players going cold at the end of the contest and defensive lapses. The Celtics face the Cleveland Cavaliers (who have also clinched a playoff spot) Friday night @ TD Banknorth Garden in the hopes of tying them for the best record in the Eastern Conference. Boston can put themselves back in the driver's seat with 5 weeks left in the season and a favorable schedule with Kevin Garnett on his way back from injury soon.
The Celtics have a tough road ahead of them as they need to get Kevin Garnett, Stephon Marbury and Mikki Moore all on the same page with the rest of the team. A postive sign is that Glen "Big Baby" Davis has done an admirable job of filling in a starting PF in Garnett's stead and Leon Powe and Eddie House have both stepped up their games as well. The Celtics are only 7-5 in their last 12 games but ever time they've had a rough stretch like that during this season it's usually capped off by a long winning streak.
Kendrick Perkins has also stepped up his rebounding and point production in recent games. He scored 17 points and pulled down 13 boards versus the Nets, he had 12 points and pulled down 6 rebounds. Against the Indiana Pacers he only dropped in 6 points but he had 11 rebounds and 5 blocks. It's tough for the man known as "Hulk" to properly secure the paint without Kevin Garnett but having all of that weight on his shoulders and responding could only lead to postitive things once KG returns to patrol the paint with him.
Celtic fans, there's no need to panic. The Celtics have more road wins than any other team in the NBA (23-9) and they're a veteran squad with solid leadership in the locker room, coaching staff and at the management level. The addition of Stephon Marbury will do nothing but help this team..or did y'all not catch his 4 assists in only 15 minutes off the bench last game? The Celtics have gone 6-4 over their last 10 games and Cleveland has gone 9-1 but a win tonight and the Celtics are back in front. Just keep in mind that it's a long season and the playoffs are another animal all together. Let's go Celtics!
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