The Celtics season has started off and the green have come out of the gate with an underwhelming start of 3-3, with victories coming against Memphis, Washington and Milwaukee. So what’s the problem? Why are we sitting at .500 when we could easily be at 5-1? The problem with the Celtics is clearly their team chemistry.
After last season’s heart breaking loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals the Celtics went into rebuilding mode, losing Ray Allen (Judas Shuttlesworth to some) to the Heat, while adding key players like Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Jared Sullinger. The only returning players from last season’s finals roster are Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass, and Avery Bradley (all of which are starters from last year). Chris Wilcox and Jeff Greene are also back, but both left mid season last year after discovering heart defects that required surgery, forcing them out.
While five returners are listed on the roster, one player is missing from the court: Avery Bradley. Bradley, who took over Ray Allen’s starting role after Allen’s defensive ineptitude became too much to bear, is a defensive dog. His iconic block on Dwayne Wade in last year’s final regular season match up against the Heat will go down in the history books as one of Bradley’s greatest achievements. While Courtney Lee has proved to be an okay replacement, playing decent defense while scoring some baskets, Bradley is the man we want on the floor, not Lee. Bradley’s return will put Lee on the bench, where he, along with other new additions, should be learning the ropes of Celtics basketball.
The bench that Lee should be sitting on has a great new addition. Jason Terry, or JET, came from Dallas, where he was a deadly three point shooter; Jared Sullinger, a first round draft pick, is known for his defensive presence as well as his scoring ability at Ohio State; and Leandro Barbosa, a combo guard, can put quick points on the board. With solid players like these, as well as four out of five of our finals starting line-up, one might wonder why we have yet to produce.
To answer this question let’s look to Miami. When their “big three” was originally assembled they didn’t mesh at first either. Many wondered if it could work, if there could be so much talent on one team, if they could ever win a championship. After their loss to Dallas two years ago many thought it had been too good to be true, but, after last year, it was shown that good things are given to those who wait. The Heat pulled it together against a young, although very talented, OKC Thunder squad to win their first championship since ’06. It was their second year with the addition of Lebron James, Chris Bosch, and the perennial all star Dwayne Wade.
The Celtics’ bench may not have the same level of talent as the Heat’s big three, but they need to learn to play together, just like those three needed to. Given time the Celtics’ chemistry will develop. The hyped up, very talented team that we heard about will find their swagger, and they won’t look back when they do.