Tuesday, October 31, 2006


...but the Dance Squad is certain to entertain

For many, the highlight of last season was the night Doc had intestinal distress and had to sit on a toilet in the locker room while the Celtics lost to the Hawks, giving birth to the most apt nickname in sports, “Shits Rivers.” It was a moment of grand absurdity and embarrassment that served as a powerful metaphor for the Celtics franchise and where it stood (or sat) last season. Expect this metaphor to hold water (so to speak) for this upcoming season as well.

If there is any justice in the universe, 2006/07 will be the end of Shits Rivers and the Danny Ainge era. The squad as comprised is a laughable iteration of last year’s fiasco, and with no improvement in sight, fans are likely to start booing the home team sometime in January. This will, of course, precipitate a desperate trade for a washed up/disgruntled veteran (Antoine III anyone?), and the downward spiral will unfold predictably. By 2008 it will be acceptable to bitch about Pierce’s unmoveable contract, and by 2010 these fucknut owners will have moved on to ruin some other business enterprise.

As for now, you cannot look at this team and say it has improved at all from last season. For all the off-season bluster about veteran talent and good character, it became painfully obvious how completely (titty )fucked we were when management spun the humiliating Telfair trade as their successful acquisition of a “veteran point guard.” Of course, this is a guy who was playing high school ball two years ago, and last year couldn’t beat out a journeyman and a rookie for minutes on the worst team in the NBA.

The rest of the roster is essentially the same, only a year older. We have the one bad-kneed white stiff replacing another, we have the mortal remains of Theo Ratliff, and, of course, the human Hamcock, Brian Scalaburine. We are so bad off that Mike Olowokandi won a roster spot in open competition.

And what’s good? Only the same things we had last year: Gomes, Delonte and Perk. Each one of these guys is solid but very limited, and we root for them because they have heart and character and we want them to succeed, but not because we think they’re extraordinarily talented or capable.

The only real x-factors we have this season, the players that COULD make a difference if they work out for the best, are Rondo, Gerald Green and Al Jefferson. IF Rondo can shoot consistently and be a real playmaker, IF Gerald Green gets minutes and turns into an explosive scorer off the bench, IF Big Al gets his head out of his ass and gives us a real threat in the paint – these things could salvage the season and put us in the playoffs. I leave it to you to determine if these If’s are likely to occur.

As for everything else, it all sucks, but these are the things that should concern us the most:

Pierce Plateau – last season Pierce put in a season that shut up all of us (myself included) who berated the decline in his game and his histrionics during the Indiana playoff disaster. For stretches during the middle of the season, he played like a truly elite superstar, single handedly preventing the Celtics from complete implosion. Still, even with our de-facto franchise player cruising along at the top of his game, there were only five teams that finished with worse records. Now, another year older and with a fat contract extension, what is the chance that Pierce duplicates last season? How many wins do we get with Paul Pierce plateau-ing as a talent and the rest of the team remaining painfully mediocre?

The Coc Factor – Doc Rivers is the worst coach in professional basketball, and until he is fired, this collection of marginal talent is never going to jell into anything cohesive. His preseason declaration about not having a set rotation should strike a chord of panic in the hearts of Celtics fans everywhere. We can now expect another bullshit season where players get jerked around for minutes and Coc’s ridiculous head-games make it impossible for anyone to get into a groove and define their role. And, oh yeah, don’t forget about “small ball.” Look for Perk, Jefferson, and Gerald Green to suffer most from Coc’s stupidity. Look for Inmate #42, Scalaburine and Telfair to play far more minutes than any of us can stomach.

Defense – There isn’t any. The presumed staring five of Pierce, Wally, Telfair, Gomes and Perk is, to be charitable, a tad weak defensively. Pierce and Wally are slow and indifferent, Telfair is small and dumb, Gomes is outsized, and Perk is a foul magnet. Delonte and Rondo will be okay guarding small guards, but Tony Allen’s crack baby attention span will spell inconsistency, and everyone else on the bench is a liability. Plus, we still don’t have the dominant defensive rebounder we need to play up-tempo offense.

Point Guard – The most laughable disaster of the off-season was the Telfair trade, a move of such short sighted stupidity that it ranks up there with giving up a lottery pick for Vitaly Potapenko. Rookie Rondo has already embarrassed Telfair in the preseason, and one day people will marvel at a cost analysis stratagem that determined losing one season of Raef LaFrentz was worth passing up on Brandon Roy. As for Rondo, those (such as Bill Simmons) who are ready to anoint him a future HOF, are advised to review the many foolish comments made last year about another pre-season standout who was eventually exposed by real game competition - Orien Greene. My guess is Rondo ends up being adequate, but Ainge still looks like a fool for trading two #1’s to acquire two undersized PG’s with questionable shooting ability and no proven track record of running an NBA offense.

And then there are the bad X-factors. Like injury, malaise, trade demands, an entire team quitting on an incompetent coach. If even one of those hits this squad, it ain’t going to be pretty. Watch out.

Prediction – 30-52

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