30 to 16 to 1: (Part 13)The Celtics and The Big One

Posted on 09/17/2010 by

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The Basics:

30 to 16 to 1. Based on a half baked notion, that since the true goal of any NBA season is to turn thirty teams into one champion and as we saw in my earlier piece, what wins in the regular season is not necessarily what  gets you the trophy, my 2010 Playoff Review series continues.

The Half-Baked Notion:

Simple (based on 2010 numbers):

  • The best two players accounted for 55% of a teams wins in the 2010 Playoffs.
  • The top three players are just below the pareto threshold
  • The next three (4,5,6th man) account for the rest of the positive win contribution about equally.
  • After that everybody else actually hurt teams in the playoffs.

The format will look at the best six players in the playoffs for each team, will look at how many wins their coach/injuries might have cost them and talk about their opportunities/drawbacks going forward (and if they’ve done anything in the off-season to address these). We will go from least productive to most productive team in the Playoff (based on the table that follows now):

We are almost at end of the road now. Only two teams left standing. The first is the Finals Runner-up and my favorite team the Boston Celtics.


Before we start, some explanations are in order. I’ve avoided this post (and the next one) for a long time and not for reasons the typical reasons. Inspiration wasn’t the problem. The Celtics in 2010 and their playoff success are the root of the half baked notion. I’ve written this piece in my head 50 times but the problem lies in that I love the Celtics irrationally. After giving up on this team, to have them come back and lose game 7 like they did to the #@$#!! Lakers hurt. I needed some distance to review this team dispassionately. Let’s see how that turned out.

Who or what is the Big one?

The Big One


Verbal: Who is Keyser Soze? He is supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Soze. You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And like that, poof. He’s gone. – The Usual Suspects

It’s the Big One Elizabeth! – Fred Sanford  –Sanford & Son

  • The Storyline: For a lot of teams, it’s easy to pinpoint to the one central storyline/problem/issue that dominated the playoffs and points toward the 2010-2011 season. In the past season the Celtics had/have many such questions. The team got older. The competition (Lakers, Cavs and Magic) got stiffer. The health of key pieces of this team was an issue.  What exactly was the pecking order for this team? The Celtics much like Kayzer Soze had convinced the world and their fans that they did not exist as a contender in 2010. At the end of the day none of it mattered, the vets showed for the playoffs, the competition faded for the most part and Rondo stepped up in a way. The team went from a Big Three plus one to the Big One (Rondo) plus three and that was almost good enough for the title.  The Celtics most emphatically could have won the 2010 NBA title. The big question facing them now is if that still holds true for 2011.

    The Big Questions?

  • The Good:Rondo. He was fantastic. Garnett & Pierce were good. Pierce while facing rough match-ups pretty much throughout and Garnett at less than 100% . Big Baby Davis was surprisingly effective.
  • The Bad: Ray Allen for the most part looked done as an everyday scorer. Garnett looked like a player struggling with nagging injuries. Perk was not great other than defensively and now he’s gone to injury.
  • The Coach: Doc Rivers maximized his resources and played his minute allocation masterfully (see here).  Bill Simmons will now light himself on fire.
  • Needs: A decent 2 guard to allow Ray Allen to play less. Size to replace Perk’s minutes. Scoring.  Rondo to work on his free throws and jumpers with Ray. That magical time machine that Andres keeps talking about.
  • Major Moves: The Celtics roster looks like this for 2010-2011:The Free agent scorecard loves their moves. As does the dispassionate analyst in me. The Celts realize they need some luck to win. The O’neals are a gamble but given that Shaq signed for the minimum and that Jermaine showed signs of life (.077 WP48 at Center) and will probably be expected to take second chair at the 4 in the playoffs not a huge gamble. Throw in Haragondy and the Turkish rookie Erden and they should be able to find some effective production at the 4/5 while they wait for Perk to heal.  The Delonte West signing is inspired as he’s good, annoys Lebron and  gets Allen some rest. Love me some pocket kryptonite.
  • 2011 Outlook: Rajon Rondo has proven he’s one of the Big Boys. While the Celtics have him on the roster this team will contend for a playoff spot in the east. The big three is getting older but Danny Ainge has done a good job at putting together a deep roster with size that should allow Boston to keep or improve their seeding in the East.  By my count,  there are nine guys on this roster that could put together a .100 WP48 season next year ( Rondo,Nate,Ray, Pierce,Garnett, Perk, The O’Neals  and Delonte), granted there’s some risk there but write them in (in ink ) as winning their division and contending with Chicago and Orlando for a 2 Seed. The big problem for this team will be who will be left standing come playoff time to face off with the Heat. Of all the questions facing the Celtics in the coming season that is the Big  One. If Garnett, Pierce  and Rondo are healthy and in form and if they’ve found an effective rotation at the 2 and 5,  this is the main obstacle that Lebron and the Boys from South Beach will face on the road to their much ballyhooed coronation. I really can’t wait to see how it plays out.


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