|2010-11 Team Rating|
|10th Overall||2nd Overall|
Stats through Jan. 15
When healthy, Kevin Garnett and Shaquille O'Neal have been dominant, but they've missed 18 games between them. Jermaine O'Neal has missed 22 by himself.
Rajon Rondo has missed 11 games, but has been terrific otherwise. And Ray Allen has shown no signs of age, shooting better than 50 percent for the first time in his career.
In 29 full games with Garnett, the Celtics' defense was ridiculously good. But to no one's surprise, it suffered when he missed time with a calf injury.
With a bevy of injuries, the Celtics have needed a lot of starts from their bench. That they stand atop the Eastern Conference is a credit to their depth.
The Celtics have more characters in their locker room than they do injuries. And nobody could manage either better than Doc Rivers.
We're still waiting to see what the Celtics can do at full strength. But despite their health issues, they've been just as dominant in the early going as they were in the first three years of the big three era. In four years total, they have a record of 94-14 in games played before Christmas.
As always, it starts with defense, where the Celtics rank near the top of the league once again. Offensively, Rajon Rondo has taken the reigns, leading the league with 13.4 assists per game.
Last season, the Celtics proved that they can flip the switch when the playoffs begin. But ultimately, they couldn't get the job done on the road Game 7 of the Finals. This year, they want to make sure they have home-court advantage should they get back there.
That will require the focus to keep the foot on the gas, as well as better health in the second half of the season. Jermaine O'Neal's status remains questionable going forward, but Kendrick Perkins is almost ready to take back his spot on the frontline. And as Doc Rivers is always willing to tell you, the Celtics have never lost in the postseason when their starting lineup is intact.
-- John Shuhmann
Explanation of Marking System