|Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win By Less Than a FOOT||Panic Mode in Full Effect, Minutemen are Struggling||Patriots Survive Gritty Challenge From Jets||Smart Era Gets Off to a Good Start with Win over T’wolves|
Welcome to our weekly Celtics report card! In this space, I’ll evaluate the team’s performance over the past week, assigning grades from “F” to “A+” (though be forewarned, there will be no liberal arts college grade inflation).
To come up with a letter grade, I will use a combination of statistics (looking at the box score), scouting (watching the games), strength of schedule (who the opponents are), and, of course, pure subjectivity (how I’m feeling on that particular day).
This week, the C’s will suffer from playing two cellar-dwellers in the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards. A trip to the Super Bowl by the Patriots has me pretty giddy, though, so my good mood might give them some marginal help on their final grades.
Ehhh, on second thought, probably not. A meager 7-9 record has not left me happy. Time to be that unnecessarily tough teacher everyone always hates. So enough chit-chat. Let’s break out that red felt pen and get to grading this past week.
I was tempted to give the starting backcourt an “incomplete” for this week, considering Rajon Rondo missed two games with a wrist injury, but that’s about as textbook as you can get to defining “cop out.” In those first one and a half games, though, Rondo looked impressive. He has been a man on a mission, and I love that he’s not afraid to get to the free throw line this year. His replacement, Avery Bradley, has been occasionally brilliant and generally solid on defense, but anywhere from “meh” to “my god!” on offense. In a bad way.
Meanwhile, Ray Allen went through a prolonged shooting slump this week, scoring just 33 points all week. The Celtics have to do a better job of getting him more than six field goal attempts per game, and a free throw shooter as good as Allen has to find a way to get to the line more than five times in four games.
You might say Paul Pierce is rounding into form with a 34 point, 10 assist, eight rebound performance against the Wizards, but I say let me know when he shows up against a team that has more than two wins. I can’t figure out why he’s still so out of shape when the bruised heel only kept him out for a couple of weeks. I know it’s not manly, but maybe jump on an elliptical? At least for a few minutes.
Simply put, Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O’Neal look old. Those knees have seen a lot of miles. The Celtics were out-rebounded by every team this week except for the Thunder, who also struggle on the glass. O’Neal and Garnett have to be better at setting the tone on the boards.
I’ve always considered Marquis Daniels more of a small forward and Mickael Pietrus a little bit more of a shooting guard, even though they’re both 6’6” and Pietrus actually out-weighs Daniels by 15 pounds. Apparently, though, Daniels is listed at SG and Pietrus at SF. So that means the backcourt off the bench is comprised of Daniels and E’twaun Moore (plus Bradley when Rondo is healthy).
I feel like that should be an automatic F on principle, if only because the Celtics are so incredibly screwed if both Allen and Rondo get hurt. What’s that? That’s happening right now? Awesome!
The lone bright spot on an otherwise dim season: Brandon Bass! Mickael Pietrus! Sasha Pavlovic! Wait, one of those names doesn’t fit. Both Bass and Pietrus hit double digits in scoring in three out of four games last week. Bass did a decent job of rebounding, and Pietrus hit at least 50 percent of his three-point attempts in every game. But they took turns no-showing against the Thunder and the Phoenix Suns (the only quality opponents from last week, as I’ve already reiterated), so I can’t give them good marks to bring home to mom and pops.
Sorry, but no honor roll with this week’s report card.