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Last summer I made a very early and bold prediction that the Celtics would repeat as champions again and that Tony Allen was going to develop into their dominant sixth man. Well, now we know that both of these predictions turned up wrong, and if those were my two big hopes for the season, then this past year was a huge letdown.
I’m more neutral about how I reflect about this season. It was frustrating all year to watch the injuries pile up and then in the end for the Celtics to lose to the Magic, who I thought was the inferior team. On the other hand, it was great to see some of the developments of the younger guys. Let’s take a look at both sides of the issue.
So when anyone tells you that they have good news and bad news they usually start with the bad news, so I figure I will start with the cons (or letdowns) of this past season. The Celts were heavy favorites coming into 2008-09 to win it all again. Despite the loss of James Posey, they were still a force to be reckoned with. However, they did not live up to that expectation.
Injuries throughout the year to Tony Allen, Leon Powe, Glen Davis, and Brain Scalabrine were very painful to watch, but the most painful of all was the injury to Kevin Garnett. Everyone kept hoping they might see him again at some point and even when he did come back for those few games, Garnett was just not the Garnett of before.
Tony Allen was out for a good chunk of the season with injuries and did not get to develop into the role of the sixth man that he seemed destined for early on. Leon Powe’s injury in the playoffs was just terrible to see happen. Even without Garnett, if Powe was still playing, I am positive that the Celtics would have beaten the Magic.
There were also failures with some of team’s new acquisitions, especially with the ones that would have given them some size. Early on, Darius Miles and Patrick O’Bryant were picked up to give the Celtics some big guys. Neither one of them amounted to anything, with Miles not even making the final cut and O’Bryant fouling his way out of the small amount of playing time he received. Mikki Moore was later added, and really did anyone expect this guy to do much? Sure he was better then O’Bryant, but he was purely brought in as an insurance policy.
So let’s summarize the big letdowns for this year’s Celtics:
What would have happened with some bigger talent and a healthy team the entire way?
The Celtics also had a lot of good things happen this year. They grew much more as a team and we saw the swift development of some of their players. They also have more time to get their health back and be ready to contend again next season.
When the season started, I do not think anyone would have said Eddie House would break a record with the team this year, and sure enough he did. He notched the best three point field goal percentage in a single season for a Celtics player, which is no easy feat. How often does a bench player get great looks at a three pointer? Eddie was able to come into games, and without many good looks, he was still able to nail a record-setting percentage of them.
Ray Allen, despite his advancing age, had a career year. Say what you will about Ray slumping in the playoffs, which he did, but his numbers for the regular season were great. The amount of games he played in, 79, was the most he had since the 2000-01 season when he played in all 82. He had a career high in free throw percentage at 0.952. He also had matched his career high in field goal percentage from the 2000-01 season with a 0.480. Let’s not forget that most of his stats were also higher than his previous year with the Celtics, and he saved the day for the Celtics on many occasions in typical Ray Allen style. He hit some huge shots for the C’s, including a few clutch threes against those pesky Chicago Bulls in Round 1.
Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins both had great years. Rondo was even considered by many to be an all-star, and although he was not named to the team, he should definitely be there next year. Rondo improved in nearly every stat category this year as he became one of the premier point guards in the Eastern Conference. Kendrick Perkins also had a great year, improving his rebounding, scoring, and blocking numbers. He has become a force to be reckoned with under the basket and a great defender.
The Celtics also grabbed some talent where most thought it was lost in Stephon Marbury. I expect him to be back next year and a great guy to come in off the bench. He showed some of his old spark at points this season and if he can continue to shake off some of those cobwebs and get back into his old form, he is going to be great off the bench next year.
Oh yeah, there is that other guy that really turned heads: Glen “Big Baby” Davis. If you asked me last summer who the team’s biggest star of this postseason would be, I probably would have said Paul Pierce. Yes, Pierce was great as usual, but Glen Davis really turned heads this year. He had a great regular season and helped fill the shoes of Kevin Garnett pretty nicely in the postseason, and those are some pretty big shoes to fill.
Overall, Davis averaged 15.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in the playoffs, but he had some great shots and was an amazing player the entire way. He even hit the game winning shot in game four against the Orlando Magic in quite a dramatic fashion. I truly hope the Celtics match any deal that is offered to Davis this offseason because when he, combined with Leon Powe, comes off the bench for Garnett next year, the Celtics will barley lose anything when they go to the bench.
So was the Celtics season a letdown? Sure it was if you look purely at the end result of the playoff run, but there is so much more that happened this year even without winning a championship. I wanted the Celtics to win more than anybody, but they did not and now I eagerly await next year’s team to take revenge and get back the title they so rightfully deserved this year.
Tags: Brian Scalabrine, Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Darius Miles, Eddie House, Glen Big Baby Davis, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Leon Powe, Miki Moore, Orlando Magic, Patrick O'Bryant, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Stephon Marbury, Tony Allen