The Celtics took a big risk as they're fighting against a number of Eastern Conference foes for playoff seeding and they've changed not one horse, but five.
They're now paying the price. Whereas a couple of weeks ago, they appeared poised to run away with the East's top spot, fans are now left with quite a bit of doubt. The Celtics have lost three of their last four games while the Chicago Bulls have won nine of their last 10. Sunddenly, there's a very interesting race happening in the last few weeks of the regular season.
How will the Celtics perform down the stretch, having just overhauled nearly half of their active roster?
Here are seven thoughts on where the C's stand with 17 games left to play in the regular season.
1. Paul Pierce won Player of the Week in the Eastern Conference last week. This week, one Celtic was nominated and it was Nenad Krstic of all people. That sounds crazy, but Krstic had a heck of a week as the Celtics' starting center. He dropped 20 points and nine rebounds on the Clippers, then 16 and 15 on the Sixers. He then closed out the week with another 11 and 14 against the Bucks on Sunday night. He's emerged as a go-to scorer in the post, a floor-spreading mid-range shooter and a monster rebounder in Boston in just a couple weeks' time. Not bad for "the other guy in the Jeff Green trade."
2. Speaking of Green, he has been a very steady presence off the Celtics' bench, scoring 92 points in nine games so far. But here's the most interesting stat on Green: His 3-point shooting is way down. Green averaged over three long-range attempts per game every season in Oklahoma City, but he's not chucking anymore in Boston. He has just 13 attempts so far as a Celtic, and that's a good thing, as Green is under 34 percent from the behind the arc in his career. He should stick to scoring inside.
3. See that elephant in the room? It's Rajon Rondo's slump. Doc Rivers denied it on Monday night after his point guard shot 1-of-10 in a loss to the Nets but Rondo really hasn't played well over his last five games. He's shot 17-of-50 (34 percent), and he's been under 10 assists in every single game since March 4. Rondo hadn't missed double figures in five straight games since 2008. Maybe he's a little banged up, or maybe he's not feeling motivated until the playoffs roll around. Whatever the case, something's holding him back. Call it "March sadness."
4. The Milwaukee Bucks scored only 56 points against the Celtics on Sunday evening, breaking their all-time record low for a single game. The former record? The 58 points they scored against the Sonics on Feb. 21, 2003. That game involved current Celtic Ray Allen, who was in attendance for that contest but didn't play. Allen had just been traded from the Bucks to the Sonics in a deadline deal. The future Celtic watched from the sidelines as history was made.
5. Kendrick Perkins made his Oklahoma City Thunder debut on Monday night after sitting out with a knee injury nearly three weeks after being dealt from the C's. Perk's first game was a blowout win over the Wizards, 116-89, and he played just 20 minutes. The big man contributed six points and nine rebounds to the victory, telling the media in Washington after the game that he "felt good," but "a little rusty in some spots." That's to be expected as Perk hadn't played since Feb. 22 with the Celtics.
6. It's an interesting week for the Celtics, not just because of the playoff race, but also because the C's are getting a good glimpse of the changing face of the Atlantic Division. On Monday, they got a look at Deron Williams, who torched Rondo in the first Nets-Celtics matchup of his career. Next Monday, they take on the Knicks. It's time to see what this new Amare Stoudemire-Carmelo Anthony duo is all about. The Knicks are 6-5 since adding Melo last month.
7. Another interesting quirk of the schedule: Troy Murphy is getting a chance to see all of his former teams up close and personal. It hasn't gone well so far as Murphy shot 0-for-4 against the Golden State Warriors on March 4, his second game suited up as a Celtic. On Monday against the Nets, he came off the bench and didn't attempt a single shot in nine-plus minutes. Murphy's last chance to avenge an old flame will be Wednesday, when the C's play the Pacers.
Maybe Murphy would do better against Notre Dame. Or maybe not — the Fighting Irish are a No. 2 seed this year in March Madness