Tuesday, May 09, 2006


2006 in Rear View - Part One

The most surprising aspect of the Celtics 2005/2006 season is that it was even worse than most people were expecting. For a team that entered the season with every pre-emptive excuse imaginable already siphoned out to the media and fan-base in an effort to reduce expectation, they still managed to be a brutal disappointment. That they fell short even of the expectations of a blog called “Celtics Doom” (prediction: 35-47) is simply a useful shorthand for what has to go down as one of the worst seasons in the franchise’s history, a history which is notable more and more only for its rapidly diminishing relevance.

Ultimately, this was the season where it was confirmed that the Wyc/Ainge era is nothing more than a series of shortsighted decisions that have amounted to nearly three years of the franchise spinning its wheels. It was the season where it became abundantly clear that the failure-of-nerve and fiscal meanness of their "leadership" has landed us firmly in the horse latitudes of NBA irrelevance, and we are probably going to be stuck there for a long time. We saw that the refusal to invest real money into the team via free agency or trades, combined with over-hyped draft picks and a fetish for “good character,” has doomed this franchise to a kind of mediocrity that only a complete dismantling will ever undo.

So, in no particular order, these were the three biggest disappointments of the season, the things that should give us absolutely no hope:

1) Doc Rivers cannot coach: It cannot be understated how bad of a coach Doc Rivers is in every aspect of the profession – he fails at the x’s and o’s, he treats players with a transparent double standard based on personal bias, he refuses to adapt when his schemes prove unworkable, and he shits all over players to the media to deflect criticism from himself. Substitute Doc with a competent game coach and we might have eked into the playoffs. Leave Doc in for another season and we’ll have a complete mutiny. The second game of the season (with the egregious failure to defend the inbounds pass against the Pistons) provided an abundantly clear synopsis of why this guy is a terrible albatross - firing Doc should be priority #1 if the Celtics want to be taken seriously.

2) Paul Pierce at his best is not an impact player: This blog was at times virulently anti-Pierce in 04/05, and this year we appropriately had to eat some humble pie when he turned in the best season of his career. Unfortunately, even with Pierce playing out of his mind, the Celtics still finished as the 7th worst team in the league, and there are few left (outside of Celticsblog loyalists) who believe it possible to build a championship contender with Pierce as its centerpiece. This is no diss on Pierce, really. The far more highly regarded Kevin Garnett and Allen Iverson didn’t make the playoffs either, but it does go to show the difficulty in building a team around a scoring swingman who doesn’t like to play defense and has no particular talent for making his teammates better. Pierce is a good rebounder and great at getting to the line, but he is a miserable ball handler and a playmaker of wildly vacillating acumen. The team will never improve until a rock solid PG is in place who can get the ball out of Pierce’s hands and ensure a consistent TEAM offense. Unfortunately, the team balked at the opportunity to pry the very serviceable Earl Watson from the Nuggets, most likely because they were more concerned with dumping Mark Blount’s contract and acquiring a marketable (ie: “white”) player in Wally Szczerbiak.

3) Our “Young Talent” is not all that talented: Even putting aside the ghastly backward steps taken by Tony Allen and Al Jefferson, this season brought with it the recognition that our “young core” consists primarily of a bunch of guys who will at best someday be good NBA role players. Outside of the unformed Gerald Green, none of these players look to be an all-star type talent, and with the exception of Kendrick Perkins, none seem to have any kind of great untapped potential. Delonte West proved most definitively that he is a very nice player and a cool/funny guy and NOT a starting NBA point guard. Ryan Gomes turned out to be a great story about a 4-year college player who sneaks into the NBA and remains too undersized at his natural position to provide anything resembling consistent production. Orien Greene was an early tease who fizzled into oblivion once he stopped worrying about losing minutes to Marcus Banks. And then we have the dregs – Tony Allen is still a spastic, out-of-control dimwit who can’t shoot and hogs the ball. Al Jefferson seems to be at best a 15/6 semi-star, at worst a mentally feeble man-child who will spend his career battling ankle injuries and his own lethargy.

In short, we have big fucking problems.

Next Week - More slicing and dicing of Wyc Grousbeck! Discussing The Few Things That Went Right! And………….. Hamcock of the YEAR!

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