Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Like Money, Like Envy

At this point in the season, what can one say about a meaningless five point loss to the Pacers? The best I can muster is: it wasn't completely excruciating. We saw lots of offense, a semi-exciting semi-comeback at the end, and numerous Gerald Green highlights. It barely even registered throughout that the Pacers were driving the final stake into the feeble heart known as the Celtics post-season hopes, but they did and now it's official - we're heading to the lottery.

With that in mind, only a chump or a full-on Ainge patsy would take a "lets get this over without anyone getting hurt" game like tonight's seriously enough to write a real recap, so instead I'll focus on what we all tuned in for - Gerald Green. Those with the mental fortitude to tune in and pay attention to a meaningless late season Celtics game were rewarded with more of Gerald's magical ride, as he wound up with not only a career high 22, but many TIVO worthy highlights. These included:

1) An amazing bit of body control as he got fouled going to the rim and gently tossed it in from the side, George Gervin style.
2) An insane dunk on the break from an Orien Greene feed.
3) A more insane alley oop dunk.
4) A 60 ft 3-pointer as the 24 second clock expired.
5) Numerous smooth 18 foot jump shots over the disinterested defense of Stephen Jackson and Peja Stojakovic.

While he kicked ass individually, however, one cannot ignore the fact that the team floundered with him on the floor. This seemed largely due to the fact that in his youthful eagerness to score a shitload of points and prove that he can play, he tends to take quick shots and stifle the team ball movement. Still, at this point in a lost season, it was encouraging enough to see that he was confident, active, and that his outside shooting is scary good. In fact, as much as this team feels like little more than a collection of Paul Pierce, a couple bargain basement 2nd round picks and bunch of overpaid white guys, I think we can at least rightfully claim to have two of the better young outside shooters in the game with Green and Delonte.

So, assuming he's not traded, the question remains: after Gerald comes back down to earth and his minutes diminish, will he eventually develop into a consistent and effective role player? As we have seen this year, with the exception of Al Jefferson, every one of the Celtics young players has gone through a monster stretch like Gerald is on, and has ultimately disappointed - Gomes, Perkins, Delonte and Orien (pre-season) each had a series of games where they seemed like a long term solution at their various positions, but each winds up the season as essentially a question mark.

So while we all know that Gerald will not be putting up 22 a night next season as a 2nd year player off the bench, he seems owed some optimism simply because his athleticism and outside shooting seem special enough that they could probably get him through the rough patches of learning to play against tough NBA defenses keyed to stopping him. Of course, his own defense is a problem, and we might find out that he's dumb like Al Jefferson and implode the minute he's asked to participate more fully in the team defense schemes. Also, his offensive game might simply prove too one-dimensional to work into a cohesive team concept, and there's always that problem of adjusting when the defense finally figures you out.

Of course, this speculation could be entirely moot as Gerald and Al appear to be Bait Numero Uno and Dos in the effort to secure a Pierce-appeasing veteran and momentarily fulfill Wyc's Quixotic quest for instant respectability. If Gerald is traded, look for the inevitable Kedrick Brown comparisons to fly and the Celtics PR to spin an image of him being all jump and no brain. This might be true, but it also might not. For one, I would hope that those fan-pleasing dunks will put enough dollar signs in Grousbeck's eyes that we can keep Gerald in Green long enough to learn for ourselves exactly how good he can be.

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