After once again leading for most of the night, the Celtics completely imploded in the final four minutes last night as the Miami Heat went on a 16-0 run and eliminated the Celtics 97-87 in game five of the Eastern conference semifinals. The celebration of the Heat following the game was hard to stomach, but the news got a little better later onwhen Doc Rivers announced that he was leaning heavily towards coming back next season.

In the end, just as has been the case the last three seasons, injuries and age were too much to overcome. They just didn’t have anything left in the end, and without changes, that’s not going to improve next year.

It appears that the core will stay intact for another season, and a lockout might actually be to their benefit – if the season is shorter than perhaps the aged ones will not be completely spent when the playoffs come around. Rivers and others mentioned last night the need to add more pieces in the offseason, though it will be a challenge to do so.

While some fans(?) are demanding the firing of Danny Ainge, that’s not going to happen. Despite what Dan Shaughnessy, Glenn Ordway and others would have you believe, Kendrick Perkins would not have made a difference in this series. As Dan Kennedy points out this morning, its hard to make the point that everything went to hell when Perkins was traded when the team went 33-10 this year while Perkins was out rehabbing his knee injury.

Danny Ainge put this team together, as he did the championship team of 2007-2008. He put it all together, keeping just Paul Pierce from the previous regime(s) and putting everything else together himself. He drafted the pieces and acquired the assets that were used to acquire Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. He did it methodically and was open about the plan being to stockpile assets to then be used to acquire the big talent. He followed through on that plan beautifully, and we’ve had a great four-year run in the KG/Allen/Pierce big three era. This wasn’t a guy winning with other people’s players. He put this team together and hired the head coach. He knows what he’s doing.

Jeff Green was a disappointment. Beyond a few flashes, he was terrible. There is no denying that. I would still like to see what he can do with a full training camp and some confidence. Don’t forget that Ainge also acquired a future first round pick of the Los Angeles Clippers in the deal, which might be the most attractive trade asset he currently has. I think we’ve seen the last of Glen Davis in a Celtics uniform. In fact, I think the only three I feel certain that will be back next year are KG, Allen and Pierce. Everyone else is questionable. That includes Rondo, wh0 is the most tradable player currently on the roster. He has a team-friendly contract, and is still young. If Ainge can use him in a mega-deal to acquire someone like say, Chris Paul, I think he does it.

The uncertain labor situation hangs over everything, as the rules on player movement and time frames of everything are up in the air. The small bit of good news on that front is that unlike the NFL, the two sides have been talking pretty regularly. A lockout still seems likely, but I do think David Stern is a whole lot smarter than Roger Goodell when it comes to this stuff. (and just about everything else.)

Get all the wrapup coverage this morning at CelticsLinks.com.

The Red Sox got another stinker from John Lackey, who hinted after the game that he’s been going through a rough time all-around in his life. His wife is battling breast cancer, which would certainly be a major distraction. Get your recap of last night here:

Red Sox Game 37 (@Tor 9, Sox 3) Reloaded

With the Celtics out, the Bruins will now have the spotlight pretty much to themselves. Catch up on the Bruins over at Bruinslinks.com.

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9 thoughts on “Celtics Season Ended By Heat, Will They Try Again?

  1. bruce – I agree with almost all you said on the Celtics. Both Bob Ryan and Jackie Mac liked the trade, so I hope we see articles that are a bit more reasoned than what I heard this AM from John Dennis and Fred Toucher. I thought they both were going to have a stroke when I was flipping around the dial this morning.

    I love my Cs, but when you see Rondo on the floor with both elbow and back, Shack out, JO also with back issues, it was not meant to be. Just looking at the big three made me tired! I think Ainge thought Shack was going to be around, and Glen Davis looked slow and out of shape, so that was not expected either.

    I think it will be fun next year, and they will make the playoffs. I hope they don't turn into first round victims next year – maybe the year after!

  2. I agree Perkins wouldn't have made a difference….but Jeff Green wasn't the answer either. I refuse to believe there wasn't a lesser deal out there that would have kept Perk here and netted a backup swingman in place of Green. You mean to tell me Corey Brewer wouldn't have been a better fit? Or even James Posey, as old as he is? There is now potential that both Green and Davis will leave. I doubt very much Green wants to come off the bench for a full season after starting 3 previous ones. And I doubt Doc wants his mediocre defense either.

    As for the Chris Paul deal, I wouldn't be against doing such a thing. The caveat is Paul's knees are falling apart. I guess we'll have to see if Rondo works as hard as Rose did in the offseason and improves his fatal flaws (jump shot, Free throws)

  3. Bruce – thanks for the observation about Roger Goodell (even if it is simply stating the obvious). It seems like Roger gets a lot of love from the media for a guy who has made some really questionable decisions almost from the moment he replaced Paul Tagliabue.

  4. Bruce, thanks for your defense of Ainge here. People seem to have forgotten that the franchise had been, except for a few minor upticks, in a perpetual state of decline pretty much from the day Len Bias died until Ainge came along and began assembling the pieces (including the coaching staff–don't forget about that) which eventually resulted in the "New Big Three" and a return to title contention for the first time since the late 80s. Clearly, he rolled the dice on the Perkins trade and he came up snake eyes, and he will be ripped to shreds for it, deservedly so or not. But he still has some assets left over from the deal that could be used for future improvements, so it wasn't a total loss. I will say one thing: Celtics fans can be much prouder of their team this morning for the effort they put forth in what seemed a hopeless "elimination" scenario on the road last night, than Lakers fans should be about their team's pathetic, crude, mail-in performance in Dallas on Sunday.

  5. Trade was a terrible miscalculation on Ainge's part. Mis-read all the tea leaves from day 1 building this roster last summer. Started by stocking up on bigs to combat LA and Orlando, the latter of which blew up their own team midseason and weren't a factor. Never addressed scoring off the bench, which arguably cost them the title last year.

    Perkins trade was bad, period. Would they have won the title without making the deal? Maybe, maybe not. Should Ainge be fired for it? No, but that doesn't make him immune from criticism. It was a mistake, and a big one at that. Anything else is false.

    1. You say it was a mistake, yet give no reasons why, and discount one of the main reasons it could have been a mistake. So what's your point?

      People seem to LOOOOOOVE to avoid one big, huge factor that went into the decision: Perkins was offered an extension at the max the Celts could offer, which he turned down because he wanted to test free agency. Which means he thought — or more likely knew, as everyone else did — that someone else would offer him a better deal. Which means HE WAS DEFINITELY LEAVING AFTER THIS SEASON. Nobody seems to mention this. If he really wanted to stay, why not take the Celtics' max offer? He was never, ever going to get a better offer from them. By rejecting it, he indicated he wanted more money, which means he was leaving. Period.

      And the injury to Daniels meant he was gone after this season, as they couldn't risk his spotty injury history anymore.

      Therefore, Perkins was gone after this year no matter what. By making the trade, Ainge brought in a talented young 2-3 swingman to cover for Pierce, solving both a current AND a 2011-12 problem. Even with Green's underperformance, he's still a much better option for that swingman backup role in 2011-12 than the list of reasonable potential free agents.

      Therefore, the only way the Celtics WEREN'T improved by the trade would be if Perkins' absence was the key factor in losing this year. And you yourself say that it's unclear whether that was a factor or not.

      So how can you possibly say with metaphysical certainty that the trade was A Mistake, and Everything Else Is False? That's patently ridiculous.

  6. bruce, I know its just your opinion, but you're crazy to declare that perkins wouldn't have made a difference in this series. Wade and Lebron were animals in this series, constantly driving to the rim and living in the paint. Perkins would have at least partially prevented that. Trading away your young, physical starting center in the middle of the season only to rely on hurt, aging big men like Shaq and Jermaine Oneal was a horrible idea that wrecked the team. I know you hate listening to Orway, Shaughnessy and all the media, but stop being a contrarian and agree that this deal killed the celtics. It wasn't the points Perkins scored, but it was the way he enforced the paint and his toughness that really made a difference. And I'd love to know what fans you're talking about that want Ainge fired? Seems a little drastic. Ainge shouldn't be fired…he's a good gm, but he did make a big mistake.

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