After dropping their first two games by double digits to the likes of the rival Miami Heat and the pedestrian Milwaukee Bucks, the Boston Celtics followed with two nail-biting wins over the Washington Wizards, a possible fringe playoff contender.
The Celtics' unimpressive 2-2 start has raised some eyebrows in Boston with some people wondering whether or not this team is all it was cracked to be. With all due respect, expressing concern this early in the season is fairly ridiculous.
Let's remember that the C's got off to a 5-9 start last year. They were also 15-17 as late as the All-Star break before turning things on. They are a veteran group that knows how to get the job done, and there is no reason to believe that we won't see the same from them this season.
It's also very important to note that this is a ballclub full of new faces that are still getting acclimated to one another. Not one bench player remains from the Celtics' 2012 playoff roster. It is completely and utterly fresh, and with Courtney Lee now being the starting shooting guard, rather than either the departed Ray Allen or the injured Avery Bradley, things become that much more complicated.
Lee, in particular, has been underwhelming. He is averaging only six points per game thus far, and he has only attempted 23 shots through the first four games. The newly acquired guard must be more aggressive and look for his shot more often, as he has only tallied six points combined in the past two contests. That being said, Lee has demonstrated that he is a reliable offensive player during his first four seasons, so chances are that he will do the same this year.
The notion that Boston misses Allen is a bit faulty. After all, the C's went 16-4 last season when Allen was out nursing an ankle injury. This is not about Allen. This is about an incredibly talented group that is still getting used to playing with one another.
Guys like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo know the deal. They are the core of this squad, as this is now their sixth year playing together. They have seen it all, and they know how to integrate new parts. They did it last year with players like Brandon Bass, Mickael Pietrus, Keyon Dooling and the rest of the Celtics' role players. Because of that, there is ample reason to believe that they will do it this time around with a more capable supporting cast.
On top of that, let's not neglect the fact that Doc Rivers is a mastermind and is one of the best coaches in the business. Dissension will not exist on his watch. He will make sure to find the best and most efficient lineups possible, and he will roll with them. When Bradley returns in the middle of the season, Rivers will adjust once again. He is a tactical genius, with Gregg Popovich probably representing the only coach in the NBA who can match his smarts.
It is also imperative to mention that Pierce and Garnett are just not shooting the ball well right now. The Truth is hitting on only 35 percent of his shots, and K.G. is shooting only 45.3 percent from the floor. Given that Pierce is a career 44.7 percent shooter and Garnett converts on 49.8 percent of his attempts, the law of averages will come into play, and those numbers will improve.
The final thing that you all should be aware of is that the Wizards are no slouches. This is a team that vastly improved in the offseason, and it's only right to assume that young guns like Kevin Seraphin, Jordan Crawford and Trevor Booker will continue to get better.
Yes, Nene Hilario and John Wall missed both of the games against Boston, but even with those two being sidelined, Washington is a pesky, talented team, and one should not be surprised to see them in the playoff hunt all year and potentially sneak into the postseason.
It's not like the C's struggled to beat the Charlotte Bobcats here; they beat an able Wizards team two games in a row.
Plus, playing down to the competition is the Celtics' modus operandi. Remember last year's seven-game series against the Philadelphia 76ers? The 76ers had no business taking Boston to seven games, and the fact that the C's pushed the Heat to the very end of Game 7 in the next round is concrete evidence of that.
Not only that, but it's early, and if recent history has taught us anything, the Celtics tend to go through the motions during the regular season, and they tend to give it their all only when they absolutely have to.
So to put it simply, don't worry Celtics fans. This team will be just fine.
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