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