There are plenty of things being said and discussed in the wake of yesterday’s trades. With power structures changing across the NBA – including the arrival of two more all-stars to the Atlantic Division – the roster shake-ups are being devoured across the media. What will the C’s do when (if) presented with the nightmare shoulders of Dwight Howard now? Can the oldest player in the Association, Mr. Big Shamrock/Shaqtus/Golden Age Superman/what’s left of Shaquille O’Neal, absorb enough minutes to counter the hole in Boston’s middle? Is the lesser O’Neal, Jermaine, still a functioning athlete? Who the hell was that dude from the D-League the other night again?
Watching the C’s listless performance against the Nuggets showed a much more worrying question, at least to my eyes. Chemistry. Perhaps Semih, Marquis, Nate and Luke can be thought of fondly by the big Four; good teammates who were victims of the typical business of the league. We all remember how the departure of Eddie House was handled; “Good times, brother, best of luck.”
But it’s different with Perkins, and everybody knows it. None more than his teammates and best friends. To watch Rondo’s face last night was to see a study in a young man frustrated, confused, and possibly betrayed, all under the stoic auspices of remaining a professional. He took his cues from his big brothers on the court, but even KG couldn’t hide the despair in his voice in post-game interviews. To hear Paul speak of the game, you wondered if he even recalled playing it. True, they were very short on bodies for the game, but even when the big guns were all assembled on the court, they were dazzling in their ineffectiveness and general malaise.
This is, currently, a team with its heart bruised; hopefully not broken. We can still recall, I should hope, the contentious locker room from last season, the feuding .500 team that miraculously turned it around just in time. The arrival of Shaq and a renewed title thirst had bonded this year’s group, a chemistry formed that showed as the Celt’s thumped the competition and have held the East for most of the season.
But what of that chemistry now? How do they view their own front office? All reports are that the players were furious to learn of the deals Danny Ainge had made (and Doc signed off on), so what becomes of that rage? Is it directed towards the court? The Celts play some of the best “ok, now we’re pissed” basketball in the NBA. Or does it eat away at the core of a team that seemed hell-bent towards the Finals?
Only time will tell, but we won’t have to wait long. The last half of a season this tight always races by, and with the Bulls and Heat at the Celtics’ heels, and a suddenly dangerous Knicks squad flexing its muscles, the temperament of the team will be tested often. Can this veteran team of champions re-set themselves one more time?