|2011-12 Team Rating|
|20th Overall||3rd Overall|
Kevin Garnett is still one of the league's best defensive anchors, but he continues to decline offensively. Paul Pierce is having his worst shooting season in eight years, and Jermaine O'Neal provides no offense whatsoever.
Rajon Rondo has missed eight games and has disappeared in a few others. But he's still his team's best player, as he showed in a win over the Bulls on Feb. 12. After a hot-shooting start, Ray Allen has cooled off of late.
This is still the end of the floor where the Celtics do their best work, and it's the only reason they have any shot at competing with the best teams in the East.
Last season, the Celtics suffered a huge drop-off when their stars got a rest. This year, the starters aren't so dominant and the reserves, led by Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley, are more reliable.
When you have an aging team with a shallow bench, there's no easy way to get through a condensed season. But it helps to have a coach like Doc Rivers who can manage both the personalities and the playing time.
In a condensed season, an experienced team like the Celtics just wants to survive the regular season and get a decent seed in the playoffs. And though it hasn't been pretty (they've cracked the 100-point mark just five times), the Celtics have survived thus far.
They actually won six of the eight games Rondo missed, and they've benefitted from an easy and home-heavy schedule early on. After a 5-9 start, they won nine out of 10 games to put some fear in the rest of the Eastern Conference, but have since flattened out. And in reality, they may just be a .500 team.
Offensively, they're below average. As usual, turnovers are an issue. And they no longer get to line as much as they used to. In a related point, the Celtics no longer own the paint. After outscoring their opponents by 5.2 points in the paint per game over the previous seasons, they're getting outscored by 4.4 this season.
Allen and Garnett are free agents this summer and the big three era may be over sooner than that if Danny Ainge gets an itchy trigger finger around the trade deadline. The cracks have been showing for a while now, and for Ainge, surviving may not be enough.
-- John Schuhmann
Explanation of Marking System
|Golden State Warriors||C-|
|Los Angeles Clippers||B|
|Los Angeles Lakers||B-|
|New Jersey Nets||D|
|New Orleans Hornets||F|
|New York Knicks||C+|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||A|
|Portland Trail Blazers||B-|
|San Antonio Spurs||A|