Celtics bloggers from around the Internet answer five key questions about the squad, ranging from what the Celtics need to do to win a NBA title to if Ray Allen should be jettisoned.
What is the key to the Celtics having a successful postseason run?
Jay King, Celtics Town: A return to the basics. Despite the spate of poor health the C's have faced all season long, the reasons for their recent swoon remain tied to more controllable issues, like focus and energy. I can't remember the last time Boston played 48 minutes of intense, smart basketball.
Graham Brunell, Celtics 17: I think the Celtics need to make a deal that will provide them with a boost of energy. A Gerald Wallace, a Ben Gordon, a Kevin Martin. Somebody with some spunk and explosion that can rejuvenate the team via the starting lineup or the bench. With Marquis Daniels returning from a thumb injury, the team's defensive energy will have much more stamina, as Daniels not only adds an extra body, but a unique activeness on the defensive end of the floor. However, even with the team fully healthy, they need somebody to revive the team's chemistry and focus on winning.
Justin Poulin, CelticsStuffLive: Health is the most important, but they'll need it for at least the final month of the regular season. Re-establishing the defensive rotations and execution on offense will take that much time for them to reach playoff caliber consistency. I honestly think Kevin Garnett will be playing at a high level by then barring any setbacks.
Loscy, Loscy: The leadership and focus of the Celts needs to return. Veterans need to step up in the locker room, and coach Doc Rivers needs to hit the reset button for this team. The team is back intact, and hopefully the rhythm returns in March, which will be a key month for the Celtics: get their rotations back in order, find the grittiness it takes to win and play a straight four quarters. It sounds simple, but it will take a total team effort. The mental contribution here is just as important as the physical makeup of this team.
Should Ray Allen be traded, what must the Celtics get back in return?
Steve Weinman, D-LeagueDigest: I love rooting for such a consummate professional, and I'm happy to talk myself into the idea of his being able to right the ship in the second half. However, if the right trade comes along (reasonably priced, significantly younger, talented swingman), I wouldn't have a problem with it. I don't see a trade that nets another starting swingman (we're talking in the Andre Iguodala-Martin class here and decidedly not Kirk Hinrich, whom I would love to see acquired as a back-up for filler) as one that will impact what's left of the title chances that much in either direction.
FLCeltsFan, Celtics Green: I believe that this team can win another championship with Allen. I also like the influence that Allen has on the younger players — he is a great teammate and a very classy guy. However, I also remember the team after the original "Big Three" started to break down and age and I would rather not go through another drought like that last one. Allen's expiring contract is their one major asset right now and if it could be used to bring back a player who would be a star in the coming years, I don't see how GM Danny Ainge cannot trade him.
Brandon Paul, Gino's Jungle: Ray Allen should not be traded unless something spectacular lands in the hands of Ainge. Right now, it should be clear that the Celtics are playing to win a championship this year. Many of the offers that have come across the table make the team better in the long run, but not this year. And let me tell you this right now, no team is going to buy out Allen?s contract. Look at the economy and tell me how many smart business men would drop twenty million dollars just for giggles.
Loscy: As Ainge has said, if he finds a chance to make a move that improves this team now and in the future, he'll take it. I think Allen should only be included in a deal that makes them younger and still has some outside range. The Celtics can actually take on a bigger salary if it gives them a chance to win. Allen's expiring contract means nothing to the Celtics because at the end of 2010, the Celtics will still be over the salary cap and in the luxury tax zone. So as I see it, trading Allen is a must. Otherwise, you're stuck signing Allenfor a mid-level exception of 5 million and change… which means you have an aging off-guard as a starter that really should be coming off the bench. This team needs to get younger, and dangling an expiring $17 million contract is a good way to get younger.
Has Rasheed Wallace been a disappointment for the Celtics? Should he be traded?
King: Wallace has certainly been a disappointment. We knew he would hover too often behind the three point arc, but nobody could have foreseen him shooting so many threes or shooting them so badly. Still, the Celtics should hang on to him. His defensive post presence and offensive versatility — not to mention his playoff experience — should be vital off the bench come the postseason. Plus, he's the C's top insurance policy in case Garnett spends any more time on the injured list.
Weinman: Only in terms of his three-point percentage. It's hard to be too disappointed with his style of play if you knew — as we should have — when he came in that he loves to hang around the perimeter, eschews going to the post more than most would like, tends to be a bit of a head case and has never been all that great a rebounder in the first place (12.1 percent career rebound rate). It stood to reason that he would be a bit slower defensively simply due to his advancing age, and beyond the precipitous drop in shooting accuracy from the outside, he's been an older and unsurprisingly somewhat less productive version of the same maddening Wallace we've witnessed elsewhere. Agitating, frustrating, at times infuriating, absolutely. Disappointing, not really.
If the right trade comes along, sure. I've never been a believer in making moves merely for the sake of making moves, but Wallace is certainly not untouchable.
John Karalis, RedsArmy: Yes, he's been disappointing but no, he should not be traded. What has he done this year that is any different than what he's been doing for the past few years? You want a person that coasts for half a season, Sheed is your guy. He's going to get hot… or at least play better.
Brunell: Rasheed Wallace has been most certainly a disappointment to the Celtics, and should be traded, in my mind, even if we do move Ray Allen. The team has clearly been affected by his presence — primarily a lazy, talented guy who thinks he can get by on sheer skill — and it's really killing their chances at winning a championship. Two years ago — even one year ago — the Celts were a team who scrapped and scratched endlessly for loose balls, lazy passes by the opposing team, offensive rebounds, the whole bit. Now, it seems like it's their opponent that's winning all of those battles that Boston preached about winning the entire Big Three era.
Nate Robinson is reportedly on his way to Boston. Would he be a welcome addition?
King: A lot of people would say no, he's not worth it because of attitude issues. Not me. Robinson can shoot almost as well as Eddie House, who he'd likely supplant in the lineup, and is a far better ball-handler and athlete. He's been in Kings coach Mike D'Antoni's doghouse for a reason, you say? Yes, but it's far easier to accept a role off the bench playing behind Rajon Rondo than it is behind Chris Duhon.
Paul: I don?t think anyone who watches the NBA, or basketball in general would argue that Nate Robinson would not make the Boston Celtics a more talented squad. Robinson is a very athletic guard who knows how to score; this is exactly what the Celtics need off the bench. The one problem that lies within Robinson is his attitude, which is quite similar to that of last year?s addition, Stephon Marbury. If he could come to Boston and accept his role off the bench he would be more than welcome to call the TD Garden his home.
Poulin: My co-host, Jon Duke, can't stand the guy. Judging by the calls to our show, so does much of Celtics Nation. However, I have a difficult time seeing how he would not improve the Celtics coming off the bench. I suspect team chemistry is already somewhat awry this season, so how would Robinson hurt if that's case? And, what claim would Nate have, even in his own mind, to deserve the starting nod over Rondo? Exactly…
Karalis: Yes, so long as the Celtics don't give up a rotation player for him. If they give up Brian Scalabrine and, say, J.R. Giddens… then I say make the deal.
Brunell: I would welcome Robinson if he sincerely commits to play hard. In all honesty, as much as I like the feisty, fiery Knick, Robinson has shown his uncooperative side these past couple of seasons with the Knicks. And though these fits and complaints are likely due to the frustration of losing, I can't see the Celtics continuing to gamble at this point with free agent pickups or trade targets. They need someone who can come into their system and contend to win. Robinson fits perfectly into the Celtics system… but can he shake himself out of that defensive position he was in with the Knicks, where he was/is playing for himself, and not for the team?
Which player should the Celtics fear most heading to a postseason rival?
Weinman: LeBron James. Hang on, getting some new information from a reliable source. Oh, it appears he is already on a postseason rival. Well, that's bad news, isn't it?
Karalis: I'm horribly afraid of Antawn Jamison going to Cleveland. He'll just slide on in and play whatever role they need him to. He's a pretty productive player, and he fits there. That could be a game-changer.
Poulin: I would say either Amar'e Stoudemire or Jamison to the Cavs. Stoudemire makes the most sense for Cleveland's future outlook, but in the end I think it will be Jamison to the Cavs. The fear here is Cleveland spacing the floor in match-ups against the Celtics. Defensively, neither Stoudemire or Jamison will scare anyone, but at the other end of the floor the Celtics would have to work much harder. This was to be a major advantage for the Celtics in a postseason series against the Cavs, but the addition of either big man would eliminate the disparity.
Loscy: Player or team? Team? I fear a Bobcats first round playoff berth. Actually, I fear everyone the way the Celtics have been playing in the last six weeks. The NBA: Where the Celtics Swagger Doesn't Happen.