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MidSeason NBA Breakdown of the Boston Celtics

What has changed: Danny Ainge was not thrilled with the one-man team Boston was becoming and traded away Blount, Banks, Reed and Davis to Minnesota for Szczerbiak, Olowokandi and Dwayne Jones. Since then the team hasn't played much better. Szczerbiak isn't leaps and bounds better than Ricky Davis was, but he is more prone to have a breakout game than Davis did.This team is mainly where they are because of Paul Pierce, who is having a career year. Pierce gets to the hoop more than any other scoring SG and doesn't need to dunk it to go in. The other Boston players aren't score-minded at all but do find their ways.

The Celtics are just 5-11 when someone other than Pierce leads the team in scoring.The Celtics are 4th in the League in field-goal% mainly since the majority of their shots are inside the foul line. But guys like Al Jefferson and Ryan Gomes aren't efficient enough converting easy layups. And while Kendrick Perkins has outperformed expectations Boston is still severely undersized. They are 26th in the NBA in rebounds and Centers like LaFrentz and Olowokandi don't help.

When Dan Dickau went out for the year due to an injury, Delonte West stepped up and became the primary PG. West is a very good shooter in the mold of Derek Fisher but doesn't enough for the Point Guard position. For instance 4.4 APG from the PG spot isn't getting it down. Also, West tends to wander offensively and doesn't lead it for a good deal of time. As such the Celtics are 29th in the NBA in tunronvers.

Boston plays a ton of close games, which is good because it shows that they can compete, particularly at home. However they are awful closing out games and have lost 14 games this year by 5 or less points. When they aren't losing squeakers they get blown out frequently too, so how they perform is often like flipping a coin.

Ainge has said that he is not done making transactions. Boston is 5 games back of 8-seeded Philadelphia but do not have anywhere near the firepower. Antoine Walker helped them last year since he was the score-first guy they desperately needed. Expect players like Brian Scalabrine, Ryan Gomes and Tony Allen to possibly be shipped out within the next few weeks.Their chances aren't tremendous but they are alive.

Both Washington and Phili have a pair of stars compared to the one that Boston has. What Ainge will do before the trading deadline could determine their fate. Look for them to make a move at the final playoff spot when Szczerbiak blends in a little more.

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By: David Pincus



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