Class, may I have your attention please?
May I have your attention please, boys and girls?
The recent thrilling 86-82 come from behind victory over the Detroit Pistons marks the Celtics’ exact halfway point of the 2010-2011 NBA season.
And we all know what is dreaded about the halfway point of any year means: Mid-Term Exams
Luckily, I am so kind to provide all the readers of Celtics 24/7 a helpful review sheet to help you study. It’s even neatly organized into three main sections; the good, the bad, and the ugly. So class, it’s time to look over what we learned in the first semester of the Celtics’ 2010-2011 season. You should be taking notes.
The Celtics hit the halfway point of the season sitting pretty atop the Eastern Conference at 32-9, a record stellar enough for second in the NBA, only behind the biggest surprise of the season, the San Antonio Spurs. The Celtics are far from peaking as a basketball team, and despite battling a whole platter of injuries to key players, the C’s are on pace for a 60-plus win season (theoretically, of course).
The Big Four:
Kevin Garnett has seemingly finally had a resurgence from the knee injury he suffered in the 08-09 season, Paul Pierce is having a career year efficiency wise, Ray Allen is shooting blistering percentages from the floor, and Rajon Rondo is leading the league in assists by a wide margin. Is there anything better than the best players playing at their best?
KG has a spring in his step not seen since his first year in Boston, and has had a rebirth on the glass, ripping down 9.5 boards per game, over 2 rebounds higher than last season. The defensive backbone of the Celtics has returned to championship form.
Paul Pierce is currently the number two most efficient small forward in the league (according to all the advanced statistical mumbo-jumbo). What has gone mostly unregarded is how well Pierce has taken care of the ball this year. Paul is averaging a career low 1.82 turnovers per game, an entire assist per game and then some lower than his career average of 2.95.
Ray Allen has impressed me the most this season so far. At the tender age of 35, Sugar Ray is proving that age is just a number. He has improved in the majority of statistical categories from this year to last, and is shooting an obscene (that’s a good thing) 52% from the floor and 48% from beyond the arc. If he continues this trend, he will shatter career highs in both those categories.
Rajon Rondo. 13.4 assists per game. Does anything else need to be said?
Bad may not even be the right word. The Celtics are currently sitting dead-last in the entire NBA when it comes to team rebounds per game at an average of 38.22. But on the other hand, their rebound differential, while it is negative, isn’t back-breaking horrible. It’s in the lower half of the league, it’s not good, but it’s also nothing to panic over. Not to mention last year’s leading rebounder in Kendrick Perkins has been sidelined for the entire season so far. But I’m a realist, and the Celtics would be a better team if the problematic rebounding improved over the second half of the season, and I have a feeling it will.
The Celtics are sitting right in the middle of the pack in the turnover category. There are good teams who commit more turnovers than the Celtics, but the majority of them run a more “high-octane” offense that Boston does. The turnover differential at -1.19 means the Celtics are forcing more turnovers than they commit, but it woulnd’t hurt to protect the ball a little better. Especially point guard Rajon Rondo, who is leading the league with 3.9 turnovers per game. But to be fair, he also ranks in the top five for assist-to-turnover ratio.
It’s no secret that the Celtics have been severely hampered by injuries throughout the entire first half of the season. Starting center Kendrick Perkins had already been cemented to miss most, if not all of the first half of the year, while recovering from the knee injury suffered in the 2010 Finals. The supposed key signing in the summer, which I will mentioned ate up our entire Mid-Level Exception, center-forward Jermaine O’Neal has played in only 17 games, suffering from a nagging knee injury and we can only hope he’ll be able to contribute come playoff time. Delonte West, a pleasant surprise in the 5 games he did suit up for, snapped his wrist and we are still waiting for his return. Both Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett have missed semi-significant time with ankle and calf injuries respectively. Even Semih Erden is banged up with both a shoulder and groin injury.
All in all, the Celtics are far from a perfect team. But with the problems they do have, and the injury limitations they are facing, who can complain about a 32-9 record? I sure as hell can’t, and neither should you.